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Unprecedented lawsuit seeks damages from widow, children of slain Palestinian attacker

July 2, 2017 4:37 P.M. (Updated: July 3, 2017 11:33 A.M.)
Fadi al-Qunbar's parents and two of his children
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli public prosecutor for the Jerusalem district has filed “a precedent-setting” civil lawsuit against the widow and young children of Fadi al-Qunbar -- who was shot dead by Israeli forces in January after he drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four -- for some $2 million in financial damages.

The children are all aged between one and eight years old.

According to a report from Israeli news daily Haaretz, the case is a first in a number of civil lawsuits expected to be filed against the families of Palestinians who were killed while allegedly or actually carrying out attacks on Israelis, the Israeli prosecution confirmed.

The state is seeking to have al-Qunbar’s widow Tahani and her children, as his legal heirs, pay an estimated 2 million shekels ($572,000) in compensation for each soldier he killed, including the cost of the soldiers’ headstones -- 8,400 shekels ($2,400) each, and reimbursement of benefits paid by the state of Israel to the soldiers’ families.

The civil lawsuit came in addition to numerous severe measures already taken by Israeli authorities against al-Qunbar’s extended family and scores of innocent civilians in the wider Jabal al-Mukkabir community, where the al-Qunbars once resided.

Following the attack, Israeli forces punitively filled their home with concrete, displacing his wife and children.

Israeli authorities have also continue to hold al-Qunbar's remains, as part of Israel’s policy of withholding the bodies of alleged and actual attackers, which has been denounced by rights groups as collective punishment and a violation of international law.

Al-Qunbar's relatives, who have denied having advanced knowledge of any plans to carry out an attack, and the wider community of Jabal al-Mukabbir, were subjected to a number of other collective punishment measures that critics called a “policy of reprisal" being waged in the neighborhood.

A number of al-Qunbar’s relatives and other locals were detained in police raids, and Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri decided to revoke the Jerusalem residency status of 13 members al-Qunbar’s family -- including his mother, which also broke precedent.

While punitive residency revocation had not been implemented in this way before, more than 14,000 Jerusalem residencies for Palestinians have been revoked for other reasons since Israel illegal annexed East Jerusalem in 1967.

The beginning of a wave of political unrest in October 2015 was seized as an opportunity to set a new legal precedent for residence revocation, according to think tank al-Shabaka, when the Israeli security cabinet issued a decision ruling that "the permanent residency rights of terrorists will be revoked," without defining who was a "terrorist."

In response to the civil lawsuit, Dalia Kerstein, director of the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, which is providing support to the family, told Haaretz: “The al-Qunbar family is experiencing a revenge campaign by the establishment after the terrorist attack carried out by a relative.”

“Now a damages suit has been filed against the widow and four fatherless children of the perpetrator of the terrorist attack, claiming they are obligated to indemnify the state for damages and expenses due to this attack, (which is) in fact legal but is completely vicious, vindictive and ugly.”
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