Dutch court seized of complaint against Israeli candidate Benny Gantz

The former Israeli chief of staff is accused by a Palestinian-Dutchman of being responsible for the deaths of six members of his family during Operation Protective Edge against Gaza in 2014.

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Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue White Party, Tel Aviv, 18 September. AMIR COHEN / REUTERS

Election Day in Israel. On the morning of Tuesday, September 17, Benny Gantz, leader of the Bleu Blanc Party, urged swimmers on the beaches of Tel Aviv to go to the polls with a megaphone. At the same time, 3,500 kilometers away, a Dutch court was discussing a civil war crimes claim in The Hague against him in June 2017.

The complainant, a Dutch-Palestinian from Gaza, talks to the judges about the attack of 20 July 2014. Ismail Ziada lost six members of his family, including his mother, to the rubble of his home in Al Burej camp. destroyed by missiles from the Israeli "Protective Edge" operation. The two generals targeted by his complaint, Benny Gantz, Chief of Staff of the Israeli army at the time, and Amir Eshel, former boss of the Air Force, enjoy immunity, say their lawyers, who deny any jurisdiction of the Dutch courts over Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip. In Israel, questioned by the Jerusalem Post about the case, Benny Gantz claims that the Israeli army "Is the most moral of the world".

Read also Israel: Who is Benny Gantz, the first rival of Benyamin Netanyahu?

But for the plaintiff, no other court could do him justice: "I was hit in the leg with ammunition, I saw a boy being killed by my side, I was beaten and all that before I turned 15 years old. Nobody has ever been responsible. " And the Israeli military justice rejected any criminal prosecution for the summer 2014 attack, saying the house was a military command center and that four of the dead were members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

For the lawyer of the Israeli armed forces, Thom Dieben, if the Dutch court declared itself competent, it would be a "Undermining sovereignty" Israel. He defends a perfectly legal military operation, "The objective was to protect the Israeli civilian population by ending the constant firing of missiles from the Gaza Strip." It rejects any responsibility of the two officers, who acted on behalf of the State and thus benefit from immunity.

Violation of international humanitarian law

Liesbeth Zegveld, the lawyer of Ismail Ziadi, shuffles the previous cases, against Slobodan Milosevic or Hissène Habré. It recalls the cases before the Dutch courts under universal jurisdiction, against Libyans, Afghans, Ethiopians. All « engaged in crimes on the instruction of the state, but they bear their own responsibility ", She says. "It does not matter what Israel says: it's my bombing," because "We are not talking about state immunity," but that of individuals.


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