- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A group of U.S. citizens is asking the Department of Justice to indict members of Hamas for war crimes associated with the 2014 missile strikes on Israel’s main international airport.

The group of 26 U.S. citizens, with the assistance of Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center, are filing the complaint Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The group claims that the terrorist organization conducted several near-miss missile strikes on the west Israel airport during the summer of 2014 aimed at “killing or injuring civilians and disrupting international flight service in and out of Israel.”

Some group members had to flee into bomb shelters during the attacks while others were traveling on a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Paris that was diverted as a result of the missile strikes, according to court documents.

U.S. citizens were under duress after they became terrorist targets during the height of tension between Israel and Palestine-based Hamas in 2014, the documents state. That year, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. aircraft from flying to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

“All United States carriers that fly to Israel cancelled flights for approximately 36 hours,” the documents state. “In addition to the U.S. cancellations, Delta Air Lines flight 468 with 273 passengers on board was diverted over Greece and forced to land in Paris. American Airlines was forced to remove passengers from a flight waiting to depart from [Ben Gurion International Airport] because the FAA would not allow the plane to take off with passengers on board. The crew was left to ferry out the empty plane.”



Nitsana Darshan Leitner, Israeli attorney and founder of the law center, told The Washington Times that this is the first time in history that the Israeli law center has taken its grievances against Hamas to the Department of Justice.

The war crimes complaint against Hamas warrants a “very serious response” from the U.S. government, which has the authority to indict any person who commits an act of violence against U.S. citizens at an international airport, she said.

“We’re talking about American citizens, we’re talking about American vehicles, we’re talking about an international airport and we’re talking about war crimes,” she said. “And the United States has the jurisdiction to investigate.”

This is not the first time the Department of Justice has been asked to weigh in on allegations of war crimes. In 2006, Human Rights Watch asked department officials to look into abuses committed in Africa by Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr., the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. The Department of Justice eventually indicted the younger Taylor — a U.S. citizen — for committing torture in Liberia.

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