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Dutch-Palestinian Sues Israeli Commanders for War Crimes

Dutch-Palestinian Sues Israeli Commanders for War Crimes

Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 - 10:00
Former Israeli armed forces chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

A jurisdiction hearing has started in a civil case brought by a Dutch-Palestinian man against two former Israeli military commanders, including Benny Gantz who is a leading candidate in Israel's elections, over their role in a 2014 airstrike on the family's home in Gaza that killed six relatives.

Ismail Zeyada brought the case in The Hague District Court on Tuesday because he argues he cannot successfully hold Israeli military leaders accountable in Israeli courts.

He is suing former Israeli air force commanders Amir Eshel and Gantz — leader of the centrist Blue and White party that is running even with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud in Israeli elections being held Tuesday.

Neither man was present in court.

According to the principle of universal jurisdiction, some countries, especially in Europe, allow prosecution of foreign officials for war crimes if the local state refuses to prosecute.

But lawyers for the Israelis argue that The Hague District Court does not have jurisdiction.

According to reports, the Israeli military had rejected to prosecute anyone in the Zeyada case because the civilians who were killed were legal collateral damage in a strike of a Hamas war room in which multiple members from the movement were also killed.

The military has claimed that it tried to limit civilian casualties by warning civilians to leave conflict areas.

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