NEW YORK/ On the fourth anniversary of start of the Lebanese-Israeli War, ninety-one American, Israeli and Canadian victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks have filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network. The suit, Kaplan et al. v. Al Jazeera (Case No.: 10 CV 5298), which was filed in federal court in Manhattan, seeks $1.2 billion in compensatory damages plus punitive damages.
The plaintiffs, whose family members were killed or who were themselves injured by rockets fired at Israel by Hezbollah between July 12 and August 14, 2006, allege that Al-Jazeera intentionally reported live coverage of the locations of the missile strikes inside of Israel in violation of military censorship regulations, in order to enable Hezbollah to aim the missiles more accurately.
Al-Jazeera camera crews in Israel during the war were repeatedly detained by the Israeli police for broadcasting real-time information regarding the location of missile strikes, which Hezbollah utilized to more accurately aim their missiles at civilian population centers.
Al-Jazeera is widely acknowledged to have an extreme anti-American and anti-Israel political agenda. For example, in September 2001, U.S. officials filed a diplomatic complaint against Al Jazeera, accusing it of having an anti-American slant and objecting to Al Jazeera's describing Palestinian suicide bombers as "martyrs." In 2002, Professor Khalid al Dakheel of King Saud University stated that: "Al-Jazeera is the mouthpiece of the Arabs. Their coverage is anti-Israelis. Their coverage is anti-Americans." In 2006, Lt. Col. Todd Vician, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense stated: "Anyone, even an American living in the Middle East watching a network like Al Jazeera day after day after day, would begin to believe that America was bad just based on the biased, one-sided coverage." And according to Amira Oron of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, during the 2006 war in Lebanon, "Al-Jazeera was no different from [Hezbollah's own station] Al-Manar " It's an Arab station and its intent is to promote the Arab cause."
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Robert J. Tolchin Esq. of New York, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. of Israel and the firm of Heideman, Nudelman & Kalik of Washington, D.C..
Attorney Darshan-Leitner stated that: "Al-Jazeera made itself a crucial component of the Hezbollah missile offensive. The intent was to assist the terrorists in targeting and killing civilians. Without the assistance of Al-Jazeera's on-the-ground spotters, Hezbollah would have been unable to accurately aim its missiles into Israeli cities. Al-Jazeera, which has offices in New York, aided and abetted Hezbollah terrorism and is responsible for the injuries suffered by the victims of these attacks."
Tolchin observed that "By giving Hezbollah real-time targeting feedback,
effectively helping the terrorists to improve the aim of its missiles,
Al-Jazeera crossed the line between reporting the news and being part of