Terror victims angered at Israel
JERUSALEM — The Israeli government prohibited a former security official from testifying in a landmark anti-terrorism case in the United States, court documents showed on Saturday, drawing accusations from victims of Palestinian violence that the country was caving in to political pressure from China.
In a petition to an American federal court, the government asked to quash the deposition subpoena issued to the witness, who could have tipped the scales in a case filed by families of victims of suicide bombers who accuse the Bank of China of facilitating terrorist funding via branches in the United States.
In the motion, obtained by The Associated Press, Israel said that by providing knowledge he has of specific Israeli counterterrorism information, the witness could divulge state secrets that would endanger Israel's national security.
But critics say Israel's actions are motivated by other considerations, namely that the testimony could jeopardize valuable trade ties with China.
“This motion asserts that Israel will forgive the supporters and perpetrators of acts of terror against Israelis and Jews. This is unacceptable,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer representing 22 families of people who were killed in Palestinian suicide bombings. “Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, by turning his back on the victims of terror, is not only denying justice to those who have paid the ultimate price, but he is sending a message to the terrorists and the whole world that Jewish blood is cheap.”
The families accuse the government-owned Bank of China, through its U.S. branches, of serving as a key conduit in transfers of money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Palestinian groups that have killed hundreds of Israelis.
The family of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old American killed in a 2006 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv carried out by Islamic Jihad, is pursuing a separate case against the bank. Adding to the high profile, Wultz's mother, Sheryl, is a cousin of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. A representative for the Wultz family declined comment because they have not received the motion.