Home Jurisdiction Dutch court to rule on Palestinian case against Israeli defense minister

Dutch court to rule on Palestinian case against Israeli defense minister

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Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz walks by the media at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, August 1, 2021. Abir Sultan / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

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THE HAGUE, Dec. 7 (Reuters) – A Dutch appeals court ruled on Tuesday in a case alleging war crimes against Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, blamed by a Dutch Palestinian for the loss of six relatives during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza in 2014.

Ismail Ziada filed a civil lawsuit against Gantz and another former senior Israeli military official, seeking unspecified damages under Dutch universal jurisdiction rules. His case was dismissed by a lower Dutch court in January 2020.

Universal jurisdiction allows countries to prosecute serious crimes such as war crimes and torture, regardless of where they were committed.

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But the lower court ruled that the principles of universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal liability, but not in civil cases.

Ziada appealed, arguing that universal jurisdiction should be applied in civil cases if the alleged behavior involved serious violations of international humanitarian law. He asked the appeals judges to overturn the ruling, which effectively granted Gantz immunity from prosecution.

Gantz, a career soldier turned politician, was the commander-in-chief of the Israeli armed forces in a war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2014, when the incident took place.

An estimated 2,200 Palestinians have been killed, including up to 1,500 civilians, in the conflict, according to UN figures. Ziada said he lost relatives when his family home in Gaza was bombed in an Israeli airstrike in June 2014. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed.

Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, considered by the West to be a terrorist organization. Israel says Hamas is putting civilians at risk by deploying fighters and weapons inside densely populated areas of Gaza.

Human rights groups accused both sides of war crimes in the 2014 conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed in Palestinian territory since June 2014 by the defense forces Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups.

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Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg in The Hague with additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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