JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli government filed a petition with a U.S. federal court seeking to block the testimony of a former Israeli intelligence official in a terrorism case.
The petition, which was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, is aimed at stopping Uzi Shaya from revealing what the Israeli government said are state secrets, according to reports.
Families of victims of Palestinian suicide bombers who brought the suit accuse the Bank of China of funding terrorist organizations through U.S. accounts. They are seeking millions of dollars in damages; a guilty verdict under anti-terrorism laws also could affect the bank’s ability to continue conducting business in the United States, according to The Associated Press.
Shaya, according to reports, in 2005 alerted Chinese security officials to suspicious transactions, including transfers of money to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“The disclosure of such information would harm Israel’s national security, compromise Israel’s ability to protect those within its borders, and interfere with international cooperative efforts to prevent terrorism,” the Prime Ministers Office said in a statement on Saturday.
In a statement the same day, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center and the lawyer for 22 families of terror victims, said said Shaya’s testimony has already been laid out in a previous affidavit.
Darshan-Leitner said the Israeli government was breaching a direct promise to provide witnesses and evidence necessary to establish the Bank of China’s liability.
“We understand the need for financial engagement with China, but not at the cost of abandoning these families who have had loved ones murdered by the Palestinian terror groups who we allege moved funds through the Bank of China,” she said.
A similar case against the bank was brought by the family of American student Daniel Wultz, who was killed in a 2006 terror attack in Tel Aviv. The case is being heard in U.S. District Court in New York.