PA ordered to compensate bus company for suicide attacks

05 February 2003
An Israeli court on 3 February ordered the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay $10 million in compensation to the Israeli bus company Egged for losses sustained as a result of the current Palestinian intifada. Egged has been the victim of more than 50 attacks, among them at least 20 suicide bombings, since the uprising began in September 2000. The company held Yasser Arafat personally responsible for failing to stop terrorist attacks and claimed that the firm had suffered 'grave, continuous, unavoidable and -irreversible losses'. Apart from the physical damage to Egged's vehicles, the fear of suicide bombers has deterred many Israelis from using public transport, and passenger numbers have shrunk by 15-20 per cent, the firm said. Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat condemned the decision as 'purely political' and said that the PA's legal department was considering its response. 'The Israeli government wants to waste Palestinian money they are holding,' he accused.

On 4 February, Israel transferred $59 million of these frozen Palestinian funds to the PA. It was the largest single sum transferred since the government began withholding customs duties owed to the PA at the start of the current intifada, claiming that they were being used to finance terrorism. The US has been putting pressure on Israel to release the funds, of which $1,500 million remain frozen, as evidence mounts of the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories. The $10 million awarded to Egged is to be deducted from the balance.

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