Israeli law firm: Hand over Iranian supertanker to compensate Israeli victims of terror

Shurat Hadin has appealed to Gibraltar’s Supreme Court, where the tanker was seized by the British two weeks ago.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Israeli law firm that has successfully sued Iran for supporting terrorism requested on Tuesday that a British-impounded Iranian tanker be used to compensate Israeli victims for damages won in court but never received.

Shurat Hadin, The Israel Law Center, sued Iran in a Washington, D.C. federal court five years ago after a Palestinian terrorist ran down several people in Jerusalem.

The terrorist killed two people, including an American citizen, three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, and injured several others, including Braun’s father, also an American citizen. Hamas openly and proudly took credit for the attack.

In 2017, the court agreed that as Hamas supporters, both Iran and Syria were guilty, and awarded $178 million in damages to the Braun family and others who were hurt that day.  As in almost every case of this nature, the victims have never been able to collect the money.

Shurat Hadin saw an opportunity to receive that court-won compensation when British armed forces seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar’s waters two weeks ago. The U.K. took the ship due to suspicions that it had been heading for Syria in violation of E.U. sanctions.

“The criminal regimes in Tehran and Damascus are the biggest terrorist-supporting states in the world,” said the head of Shurat Hadin, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, reported Israel Hayom on Thursday.

“The Braun family verdict sent a clear message that you have to pay a heavy price for supporting terror and spilling innocent blood on the streets of Jerusalem. And now, this enforcement procedure in Gibraltar sends the message to illegal regimes that court judgments are not empty words. They will have to pay their victims so that the victims can receive a measure of justice.”

Darshan-Leitner knows that even if the 2.1 million barrels of oil on the Grace 1, as well as the ship itself, are sold, the proceeds would not be a significant fraction of the court-awarded judgment to the Israeli victims.

However, “The capture of the Grace 1 tanker… is a rare opportunity for victims to seize Iranian assets, and for European governments to show that they are unforgiving in the battle against terrorism,” she said.

Political pressures on the British government may stymie to her efforts even if the court would be sympathetic to Shurat Hadin’s arguments.

British authorities have been holding discussions for days over the return of the tanker to the Iranians. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt already offered on Saturday to free the ship if Iran assured the UK that its oil would not go to Syria or any other place under E.U. sanctions.