August 06, 2019 Practice Points

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Lawsuit Against Former Israeli Defense Minister

The court held that the Torture Victims Protection Act does not abrogate common-law foreign official immunity.

By Sanford Hausler

The parents of individuals who were killed in an attempt to run Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is governed by Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and most of the Western World, sued Ehud Barak, who was the defense minister of Israel at the time of the attempt, under the Torture Victims Protection Act. The so-called Gaza Freedom Flotilla had been warned that the ships and its occupants would not be permitted to land in Gaza, which warning they ignored. When the ship was boarded by the Israelis, they attacked the soldiers, and, as a result nine people were killed, including the plaintiffs' son, who was an American citizen. The district court dismissed the action because Barak was entitled foreign official immunity. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Torture Victims Protection Act does not abrogate common-law foreign official immunity.

Sanford Hausler is an appellate attorney with Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP in New York, New York.


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