DECEMBER 13, 2018 – My husband and I just returned from the most interesting trip we have ever experienced: the Ultimate Mossad Mission to Israel sponsored by Shurat HaDin. Although I have been to Israel many times, this trip piqued my interest and it did not disappoint, not simply because of the locations and venues that we visited, but also because of the many workshops and lectures that we were privileged to attend.
We stood only kilometers away from the Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese borders. We saw Hezbollah flags waving in the distance in the north. We visited Kibbutz Misgav Am, a front line kibbutz on the Lebanese border, where we heard from the locals what life was like prior to the last Lebanon war. At Kibbutz Alumim, less than 4 kilometers from Gaza, we witnessed the spot where just two weeks earlier, a jeep was blown up by an incendiary balloon. At Black Arrow, the site of a paratrooper peace memorial only a half mile from the Gaza border, we stood at the precise spot where just days before, a rocket was fired that targeted a bus with fifty IDF soldiers. Thankfully, no one was killed, but there was one injury. We saw the fire-ready kites made from children’s textbooks and laced with gasoline and charcoal that are destroying thousands of Israeli farms.
We heard from former Mossad agents, IDF officers, former heads of Counter Terror and Counter Intelligence Divisions as well as from the Israeli Security Agency. We toured military bases, including Machaneh Ofer, a military court where Palestinian terrorist trials are conducted, and we were briefed by the chief justice of the Juvenile Military Court. Dr. Udi Levy, former Mossad agent, spoke about the importance of waging economic warfare to combat international radical Islam.
The highlight of the trip was being introduced to and hearing from Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder of Shurat HaDin (which means “Letter of the Law”) and author of “Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters.” Harpoon was a top secret program created by legendary Mossad boss Meir Dagan with the approval of Ariel Sharon to direct spies to follow the money and to destroy the financial institutions that funded terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Shurat HaDin came into being 17 years ago when Nitsana and a few other lawyers formed an NGO (non-governmental organization) known as the Israel Law Center. With the help of Israeli and Western intelligence agencies, they have been successful in suing and collecting hundreds of millions of dollars from terrorist groups and governments on behalf of the families of victims.
With a budget of $3 million per year, they were able to secure over $1 billion in judgments against sponsors of terror, and have frozen more than $600 million in terrorist assets. One of their recent achievements includes filing a lawsuit for 400 million shekels against the terrorists who murdered fivemembers of the Fogel family in Itamar in 2011. In October 2014, 3-month-old Chaya Braun was killed by a Hamas terrorist in a car ramming attack. On behalf of her family, they obtained a $178 million U.S. court judgment against Iran and Syria for their backing of Hamas in that attack.
Because finding Iranian assets that can be seized is difficult, judgments can take years before an actual payout is satisfied. That being said, these lawsuits send a clear message to the sponsors of terrorism that there is a steep price to pay for financing terrorism. Due to the continued work of Shurat HaDin, victims of terrorism and their families have received more than $250 million in compensatory damage from terrorist assets. They have had success in suing major banks, such as the Arab Bank, to get them to curtail their money laundering activities. Shurat HaDin is fighting pro-BDS organizations in the courts, and to date they have filed lawsuits against Facebook, Google and Twitter on behalf of victims of terror.
My take-away from this mission is that terrorism must be fought at all costs, not only on the battlefields, but also in the courtrooms. Shurat HaDin is an organization that has restored my faith in this fight. From this trip and the speakers we heard, I have learned that following the money is an essential part of fighting terror. It is an absolute requirement not only in protecting Israel, but in helping terror victims around the world. Shurat HaDin is a unique NGO that is doing this.
I would encourage our entire community to become more familiar with Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, her work and Shurat Ha Din.
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