Dutch court: Gantz not responsible for Gaza deaths during 2014 war

Dutch appeals court affirms lower court’s ruling that lawsuit targeting Gantz and other senior military official can’t be heard in the Netherlands.

By World Israel News Staff

An appeals court in the Netherlands affirmed a lower court’s ruling on Tuesday that current Defense Minister Benny Gantz cannot be held legally responsible for the deaths of six Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

At the time, Gantz served as the IDF’s Chief of Staff. As Israel’s highest military official, he became the subject of a lawsuit seeking to hold him responsible for alleged war crimes.

Ismail Ziada, a resident of the Netherlands originally from Gaza, sued Gantz and former Air Force commander Amir Eshel in a Dutch court for ordering an air strike that resulted in the deaths of six of his family members during the conflict.

Citing universal jurisdiction, which holds that charges of war crimes and torture can be heard by any court, even one that’s not located in the area where the alleged crime took place, Ziada filed his case in the Netherlands.

But in January 2020, the Hague district court ruled that it could not hear the matter, as Ziada was seeking financial compensation and that Gantz and Eshel possess “functional immunity from jurisdiction.”

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Ziada had argued that the suggestion he file his lawsuit in Israel was “farcical as well as vicious.”

The Hague Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that the lower court’s decision to reject the lawsuit was correct.

The court could not rule on Gantz and Eshel’s decisions made in the context of a military conflict because “a judgment on their actions will necessarily include a judgment on the actions of the State of Israel,” the judges wrote.

Israel’s Deputy Attorney General Roy Schondorf praised the ruling, writing on Twitter that the decision sets an “important legal precedent that safeguards Israel’s military commanders as a whole against similar [legal] attempts.”

According to AP reports, Hamas acknowledged that the air strike that killed Ziada’s family members also killed four members of the terror group, who were hiding in the same building.

Reuters and AP contributed to this report.