Hold Them Accountable

What a novel idea.

The state of Israel has decided, for the first time, to sue the estate of a terrorist for compensation to cover monetary losses caused to his victims.

In court documents filed late last month, the family of Fadi Kunbar, who killed four soldiers in a truck-ramming attack this past January, is being sued for NIS 8 million. The payment, which comes to around NIS 2 million for each of the victims, is meant to compensate their families for the “loss of earnings for the lost years, loss of pension and pension rights, shortened life expectancy” as well as for the “pain and suffering that reflects the cruelty of the acts and the great suffering of all the murder victims.”

And Kunbar is just a start. There are other lawsuits in the pipeline.

The objective of these suits is to “convey a clear and unequivocal message that the state will [also] settle accounts from a civil perspective with perpetrators of evil acts,” an official in the state prosecutor’s office told Haaretz.

It’s doubtful that Kunbar’s family has NIS 8 million, but, if they lose the suit, they can be forced to sell their home and a lien can be put on their earnings — including the substantial stipends they receive from the Palestinian Authority to reward their shahid.

The left-wing Center for Defense of the Individual has attacked the lawsuit as “wicked, vengeful and ugly,” but it’s nothing of the sort. It is moral and legally justified on two grounds, one relating to punishment, the other to deterrence.

Kunbar, who drove his truck into a group of soldiers at Armon Hanatziv in Yerushalayim, didn’t just rob the families of Yael Yekutiel, 20, Shir Hajaj, 22, Shira Tzur, 20 and Eretz Orbach, 20, Hy”d, of a cherished child and sibling. They didn’t just deny mothers the chance to see their children marry and give them grandchildren. They also denied the families 40-plus years of financial benefits, including income. They cost the state money in burial expenses, psychological help for families and other needs. And there’s no reason why the terrorists or their families shouldn’t have to reimburse the government and the families.

Second, terrorists don’t operate in a vacuum. They have families that encourage them to go out and become shahids, thereby bringing honor to the family as well as PA payments. The mother of the terrorist who murdered Border Guard Hadas Malka, Hy”d, a few weeks ago, was arrested for speaking out in the Arabic media of the need for a new intifada, and for encouraging other young Arabs to follow in her son’s path and attack Israelis.

His father gave several interviews praising the actions of terrorists.

If families knew that they would be subjected to lengthy, costly trials, and then be forced to compensate the victims financially, it would serve as deterrence.

In a similar bid to drive home the notion that terrorism doesn’t pay, this time for the Palestinian Authority itself, the Justice Ministry announced last week that there was no legal obstacle to passing a law that would withhold monies from the Authority to offset its payments to terrorists and their families.

Currently, Israel turns over tax money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under an agreement that dates back to the Oslo accords. A pending bill seeks to discourage monthly PA payments to terrorists and their families by withholding the amount of these payments every month. That bill has now received the green light from the Justice Ministry and can be brought before the full plenum for passage into law.

A similar measure is being considered by the U.S. Congress, where the Taylor Force Act would freeze U.S. funding for the PA unless it stops the payments to terrorists.

The key to turning off the economic tap to terror is in Washington. President Donald Trump and his messengers — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman — have been clear with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas that he must stop inciting to terror by paying huge stipends to murderers of Jews and naming town squares in honor of terrorists. But the message isn’t getting through.

A few days ago, the Palestinian Authority inaugurated the “Martyr Khaled Nazzal Square” in Jenin, named after the terrorist who planned the notorious 1974 Ma’alot Massacre in which 22 schoolchildren and four adults were murdered.

Nazzal, the secretary of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and commander of its military branch, also planned an attack that resulted in the murder of four hostages in an apartment in Beit Shean in November 1974, and a shooting and grenade attack in Yerushalayim in April 1984, in which one Israeli was murdered and 47 others were wounded.

Until now, Abbas has played games with Israel and the United States, promising to stop all forms of incitement, but then reneging on the grounds that he feels pressure from the Palestinian street to continue the payments and honors paid to terrorists.

It’s time to put the families of terrorists and the Palestinian Authority on notice that there is a price to pay for terrorism, not just in terms of lengthy prison sentences for the perpetrators, but in economic penalties that will be wielded against the families and the Authority that encourages them.