The families of five U.S. citizens injured or murdered by Palestinian terrorists, filed today a massive lawsuit against the social media giant FACEBOOK, INC. (“Facebook”) for knowingly providing its social media platform and communication services to the notorious terrorist organization HAMAS in violation of U.S. antiterrorism law.

According to their attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center: “This lawsuit should be no surprise to Facebook, which has knowingly provided its social media platform and services to HAMAS, its leaders, and affiliates for years, despite repeated complaints and warnings that it must not do so. Facebook must now be held accountable for its role in facilitating HAMAS’s terrorist activity, including the terror attacks that injured and killed the victims in this lawsuit.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks compensation and punitive damages for the U.S. victims of five separate terrorist attacks between June 2014 and March 2016. The attacks were all carried out by HAMAS, one of the most well-known Palestinian terrorist organizations.

The terror attacks that are the subject of the lawsuit are:

  • The June 12, 2014 kidnaping and murder of three teenagers in Israel, including 16-year-old U.S. citizen Yaakov Naftali Fraenkel.
  • The October 22, 2014 car-ramming attack at a Jerusalem light-rail train station, in which 3-month-old U.S. citizen Chaya Zissel Braun was murdered.
  • The October 13, 2015 shooting and stabbing attack on Egged Bus No. 78 in Jerusalem, in which 76-year-old U.S. citizen Richard Lakin was severely injured, and from which he subsequently died.
  • The January 27, 2016 stabbing and attempted murder of U.S. citizen Menachem Mendel Rivkin.
  • The March 8, 2016 stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, in which 29-year-old U.S. citizen Taylor Force was murdered.

The lawsuit is titled Avni v. Facebook, Inc. The complaint gives numerous examples of HAMAS’s use of Facebook for terrorism, including in relation to the specific attacks and victims in the lawsuit. According to the complaint: “Facebook has played an essential role in HAMAS’s ability to carry out its terrorist activities . . . HAMAS uses Facebook as a tool for engaging in terrorism.”

The United States Government first officially designated HAMAS as a terrorist organization in January 1995. It designated HAMAS as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (“FTO”) under U.S. law in October 1997, and as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in 2001. Under these designations, HAMAS is subject to strict economic sanctions that prohibit U.S. persons and entities from engaging in any transactions with HAMAS, or receiving or providing any funds, goods, or services for the benefit of HAMAS. Moreover, it is a criminal offense to knowingly provide material support or resources, including services, to a designated FTO, and under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, the provider of such support can be held liable to victims of terror.

Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is a Tel Aviv-based civil rights organization and world leader in combating the terrorist organizations and the regimes that support them through lawsuits litigated in courtrooms around the world. Fighting for the rights of hundreds of terror victims, Shurat HaDin seeks to bankrupt the terror groups and grind their criminal activities to a halt – one lawsuit at a time.

Shurat HaDin has succeeded in winning more than $1 billion in judgments, freezing more than $600 million in terrorist assets and in collecting $120 million in actual payments to the victims and their families. In 2015 Shurat HaDin won a $655 million judgment against the Palestinian Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) for their roles in directing terror attacks against civilians.