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Jewish Survivors Sue Arafat, PLO

March 13, 2000

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Relatives of a Jewish settler couple killed in 1996 by Palestinian militants filed a $250 million federal lawsuit Monday against Yasser Arafat, the PLO and the Islamic group Hamas.

The lawsuit claims Palestinian officials were responsible for the drive-by shooting of Yaron and Efrat Ungar because they allowed Hamas to operate training facilities in the West Bank and Gaza strip and encouraged terrorism in the region.

The Ungar family chose to file the lawsuit in Providence because a lawyer here, David Strachman, is the executor for the couple’s estate and they feel a New England jury would give the case a fair hearing.

Four members of Hamas were convicted and jailed by the Israelis. They also were named as defendants in the lawsuit and blamed, along with Hamas, for inflicting emotional distress on the family.

Khalil Foutah, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, did not return a message seeking comment at his Washington office.

The Ungars, in their 20s, were near the Israeli village of Geffen, a few miles from the West Bank, when gunmen sprayed their car with bullets. Their then 9-month-old son, strapped in a baby seat in the back of the car, survived unharmed.

The lawsuit is based on a law Congress enacted after victims of the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking struggled to make claims against the PLO.

The statute gives federal courts jurisdiction over such cases, making it easier for U.S. victims of terrorism overseas to collect damages.

Similar lawsuits have been brought against Iran by former hostage and Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson and by the family of Alisa Flatow, a 20-year-old New Jersey student who was killed in 1995 by a suicide bomber in Gaza. The Flatow family blamed Iran for the attack.

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