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 on 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 Gaza’s al-Bureij refugee camp and whose home was bombed by Israeli forces on July 20th, 2014. At the time, Gantz served as the 20th Chief of General Staff of the Israeli army.

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 Egyptian-backed Israeli blockade on 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, so, 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.

PNN further reports that Gantz and Eichel have asked the court to dismiss the case once and for all. Their lawyers claimed that, as officials in Israel, they could claim immunity unless they acted with 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, it was stated that the bombing of residential houses was  disproportionate and done without taking the necessary precautions, and reflected a pattern of actions taken by senior Israeli officials, during the last military aggression on the Gaza Strip — therefore, these actions are to be classified as 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.

(edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g)

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