Shin Bet chief faces lawsuit in America

The architect of targeted killings of Palestinians has himself become a target.

Avi Dichter – a former Shin Bet chief – is facing a civil lawsuit filed in a US federal court seeking millions of dollars in damages. This arises from the targeted hit on a senior Hamas leader, Salah Shehadeh in July 2002 when a massive one-ton bomb was dropped onto a residential block of flats killing 14 civilians.

According to the lawsuit, Dichter bears responsibility for the deaths due to his active role in the decision to bomb the building as well as having supplied intelligence on which the decision was based.

While the Israeli Foreign Ministry is embarassed by this unexpected turn of events – moreso given that the plaintiffs who are related to the victims were able to serve the papers on him during his current visit to the USA – the suit argues that the bombing constituted a war crime and should not go unpunished.

Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the plaintiffs seek to hold Dichter responsible under customary international law and the Torture Victim Protection Act. They are confident that the US court would have jurisdiction for human rights violations and war crimes under the US Alien Torture Claims Act.

In another twist of fate, this law has been used by Holocaust survivors and according to Haaretz by relatives of people killed or tortured under despotic regimes from South America to the Phillipines.

This challenge to a notorious Zionist war criminal on American soil by Palestinians is a reflection of the determination by victims of Israeli human rights abuses not to be suffocated in an environment which is overwhelmingly biased in favour of the Jewish state.

It also speaks volumes of the strategic initiatives by Palestinians in the diaspora who do not enjoy the benefits of "strategic-relationships" of the type boasted by Israel. After all it is widely acknowledged that powerful pro-Israeli lobby groups in America such as AIPAC and the AJC remain unrivalled.

These pressure groups are known to be directly responsible for processing numerous laws through the US Senate and Congress which have inhibited and criminalised Palestinian solidarity within America.

On the contrary, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah are de-legitimised as "terrorist organisations" while state terrorism of the zionist brand which drops one-ton bombs onto apartments is viewed as kosher.

This lawsuit whereby the plaintiffs are seeking both compensation and punitive damages is therefore an important challenge to zionist hegemony in America.