US court holds Iranian banks liable for murder of American-Israeli couple in Samaria

For the first time, court holds Iranian banks liable for terror attack on a US national.

By World Israel News Staff

In a major decision, a federal court in Washington D.C. ruled that Syria, Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and three Iranian banks were liable for a deadly Hamas terror attack in 2015. It’s the first time any Iranian bank has been held accountable for the death of a U.S. citizen.

The District Court ruling was in response to two lawsuits filed by relatives of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin, who were killed near the Palestinian village of Beit Furik, near Nablus. Five Hamas terrorists opened fire on the Henkins’ car, then approached it to kidnap the rabbi. But when he fought back, the terrorists killed the rabbi and his wife. The rabbi had U.S. citizenship.

The Henkins’ four children, ages 10-months to nine years, survived the attack. They were sitting in the back seat.

The orphaned children and the estates of their parents filed suit in 2019 under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a law used by U.S. victims of attacks by foreign terrorist organizations and their close family members to bring claims against state sponsors of terrorism, government agencies, and any commercial instruments of those states.

The plaintiffs argued that Hamas relied on Syria, Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for money, weapons and training. They also argued that three Iranian banks, Bank Saderat, Bank Melli and Bank Markazi (also known as the Central Bank of Iran), played key roles in funneling money to the Palestinian terror group.

None of the defendants responded to the family’s lawsuits.

All three banks are already sanctioned by the U.S. for financing terror.

The court’s next step is to determine damages.

“Financing is the oxygen needed for terrorism,” said Gavriel Mairone, one of the lawyers working for the plaintiffs said in a statement. “Bank Markazi serves as both the Central Bank of Iran and the Central Bank for financing international terrorism directed against Americans and our allies. The Treasury Dept. has sanctioned Melli and Saderat as facilitators and financiers of international terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

While U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth’s ruling was the first to hold an Iranian bank responsible, it’s not the first time American victims have taken legal action against banks. In 2014, a federal jury held the Amman-based Arab Bank liable for two-dozen terror attacks after 300 U.S. victims filed a civil suit.