U.S. court cut compensation to family of dead teen saying terror attack was risk of life in West Bank

The June 12, 2014 abduction of three Israeli yeshiva boys in the West Bank, Gil-ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, sparked rallies in Jewish communities worldwide calling for their safe return. Their murdered bodies were found on June 30, 2014. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The June 12, 2014 abduction of three Israeli yeshiva boys in the West Bank, Gil-ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, sparked rallies in Jewish communities worldwide calling for their safe return. Their murdered bodies were found on June 30, 2014. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(JTA) – A U.S. federal appeals court has ordered a district court judge to reconsider her decision to lower the amount of compensation a family can claim for the terrorist murder of their son based on the fact that they live in the West Bank.

Judge Rosemary Collyer of the district court in Washington, D.C. had accepted a lawsuit filed against Iran and Syria by the family of Naftali Fraenkel, one of three teenage boys who was kidnapped in June 2014 from a bus stop in the Etzion bloc of the West Bank, murdered and buried near Hebron.

Yediot Acharonot on Tuesday cited quotes from the judge’s original verdict in 2017, which it said it recently obtained.

The judge said that the Fraenkel’s claim of $340 million in damages was inappropriate and lowered it to $4.1 million. In her first refusal the Frankel’s request to reconsider her lowering of the damage request amount, Collyer wrote: “The plaintiffs took on themselves the risks of living beyond Israel’s Green Line and sending Naftali Fraenkel another 40 km into the West Bank to a high school in Gush Etzion, six km from the city of Hebron.” She also stated in defending the lowering of the potential award that Naftali was not murdered because he was an American citizen but because he was Jewish and Israeli.

Naftali Fraenkel’s mother, Racheli,  is an American citizen and he held dual Israeli and American citizenship.

“These facts do not diminish the plaintiffs’ grief or loss, but they can influence the assistance available to them when viewed through the lens of civil tort liability,” the judge wrote.

The family does not live beyond the Green Line, but right next to it in the community of Nof Ayalon near the Israeli city of Modiin.

Racheli Frankel told the Israeli newspaper that the judge’s original ruling is “outrageous.”

“The children were on their way from school. What responsibility did the boys have for their deaths?” she asked Yediot.

The family fought Collyer’s decision in federal appeal’s court, which last month ordered the case to be sent back to the judge. The appeals court instructed the judge that she could not blame the victim or where he lived in the case and to increase the amount of compensation that can be requested.

She is expected to soon make her new ruling.

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