Families Of U.S. Victims Sue Facebook: Hamas Attacks Prepared Through Social Media, Suit Alleges

The Times of Israel is reporting today on a $1 billion lawsuit filed by families of five U.S victims against social media giant Facebook. The Hamas attacks, the suit alleges, were prepared through social media, and the company failed to “ban the Gaza-based terror group” from allowing operatives to coordinate.

Filed in New York by Robert Tolchin, a civil rights lawyer, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner with the Israeli Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, the suit represents the families of Taylor Force, Naftali Fraenkel, Menachem Mendel Rivkin, Chaya Zissel Braun, and Richard Lakin. Force’s parents, Robbi and Stuart, lead the plaintiffs.

“Facebook has knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook’s online social media network platform and communication services,” a statement released by the group explained. “Hamas has used and relied on Facebook’s online social network platform and communications services as among its most important tools to facilitate and carry out its terrorist activity.”

“Simply put, Hamas uses Facebook as a tool for engaging in terrorism,” the lawsuit states, as reported by Digital Look.

The attacks against the Americans were alleged to have been carried out between 2014 and 2016. Two of the victims were children: Naftali Fraenkel was only 16, first kidnapped before being killed in the West Bank; Chaya Zissel Braun was just a 3-month-old baby, reported to have been caught in a “car-ramming.”

The group is seeking an injunction from the court requiring the removal of posts by terror groups on Facebook: Hamas and any group that “promotes violence against Israelis” on the communications platform.

The Times of Israel reports on supporters of Palestinian terrorists posting “praise” for perpetrators of attacks carried out in a new wave of violence said to have started in October 2015. The publication reports that Quds News Network, suspected to be a partner of Islamic Jihad, has attracted 3.7 million followers, and that Shehab News Network, suspected to be partnered with Hamas, has attracted 4.2 million.

The U.S. Counter Terrorism Center reports that Hamas has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the federal government. The militant group was first formed in 1987.

Hamas victims' families sue Facebook for $1 billion.

In October 2015, the Inquisitr reported on another Facebook/Hamas lawsuit also filed by attorneys Robert Tolchin and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner on behalf of 20,000 plaintiffs.

While the 2015 lawsuit and the current one both share the similar goal of convincing Facebook to remove posts by groups who promote violence and hatred, the most recent lawsuit also seeks considerable financial compensation: $1 billion.

Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) are currently trading just below their all-time high of $121.08, set in May. Over the past 12 months, FB stock has returned 31.2 percent, compared with a gain of 1.6 percent by the broader market, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI).

The current Wall Street analyst consensus is for Facebook to earn $3.56 per share in 2016, or about $8.2 billion. A $1 billion dollar ruling against Facebook as a result of failing to remove Hamas posts would represent about 12.2 percent of the company’s total 2016 profits.

Thus far, news of the lawsuit does not appear to be affecting FB shares, which are up $0.78 or 0.67 percent.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Public Security Minister, was reported to have described Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as having the “blood of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel… on his hands” and a “monster.” Together with Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Erdan is lobbying for new legislation that would give the government the power to force Facebook to remove content promoting hate on the recommendation of police.

American teenager living in Israel, Hallel Ariel, was stabbed to death in her sleep in June, as reported by the Daily Caller.

Officials with Facebook were said to have met with the Israeli politicians in June, perhaps signaling that the social media company is prepared to comply with any new legislation.

[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]