A few lawyers in America are continuing with their long-standing work in support of Palestinian human rights and challenging Israeli violations of international law. In particular, they have used the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows foreign victims of serious international human rights violations to sue the perpetrators in U.S. courts, to seek accountability for Israeli government violations of international law, as well as state tort law.
In 1992, a case was filed titled Abu-Zeineh v. Federal Laboratories, Inc., on behalf of family members of nine Palestinians killed from exposure to tear gas used by the Israeli military in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the first Intifada, against the Pennsylvania company that manufactured the chemical.
In Belhas v. Ya’alon, they sued the Israeli Army general responsible for the bombing of a UN compound in Qana where civilians had taken refuge during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; the bombing killed over 100 people, and injured many more.
In Matar v. Dichter, they sued the head of the Israeli Security Agency for his direct involvement in dropping a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighborhood in the middle of the night, which killed eight children and seven adults, and injured over 150 other people in 2002.
Perhaps best known is the case on behalf of the parents of American peace activist Rachel Corrie and four Palestinian families whose relatives were killed or injured when Caterpillar bulldozers demolished their homes. The case was brought Corrie v. Caterpillar because the company had long known that its 60-ton armor-plated bulldozers provided to the Israeli military were used to commit human rights abuses. CCR partnered with PCHR’s Raji Sourani on Abu-Zeineh, Matar and Caterpillar.