Dutch court to discuss trial of ex Israeli army chief for war crimes in Gaza

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Haaretz Israeli newspaper reported that the Dutch Central Court in The Hague will discuss next Tuesday, which coincides with Israeli elections, whether it is within its competence to try Israeli politician Benny Gantz for war crimes committed during the 2014 Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip.

A civil lawsuit was filed last year against the former Israeli Chief of Staff Gantz and former Commander of the Air Force Amir Eichel by Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada, a resident of the al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza, whose home was bombed by the IOF on July 20th, 2014. At the time Gantz served as the 20th Chief of General Staff of the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF).

In the bombing Ziada lost his mother, three of his brothers, his sister-in-law, a nephew and a friend who was visiting the family. Because of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Ziada, who was in the Netherlands at the time, was unable to attend the funeral.

Ziada said in his case that Israeli courts do not allow a fair and genuine trial for war crimes, and the case was filed under Dutch law, which upholds the principle of universal trial in cases of citizens who have been denied access to justice elsewhere. This is the first time that a Palestinian has been able to use civil prosecution for war crimes.

Gantz and Eichel asked the court to dismiss the case once and for all. Their lawyers claimed that as officials in Israel, they enjoyed immunity unless they acted with the intent to cause harm or disregard the possibility of harm. They rejected the allegation that they had committed a war crime and claim that Ziada had not filed a lawsuit before the Israeli court, so his claims of inaccessibility to Israeli courts were only hypothetical.  

In a lawsuit filed against Gantz and Eichel by attorney Liesbeth Zegveld, states that the bombing of houses of its residents, was  disproportionate, and done without taking the necessary precautions, was a pattern of actions taken by senior leaders in the last agression on the Gaza Strip. Therefore, these are war crimes.

The Israeli army described the bombing of Ziada’s house as an air strike on a “building used as a war room” by Hamas in Bureij.

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