The Hague, September 9th, 2019
On Tuesday 17th September, the District Court of The Hague will hold a hearing on the admissibility of a case brought by Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada against the former Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), Benny Gantz and former Commander of the IDF Air Force, Amir Eshel for the bombing of the Ziada family home in Gaza. The attack resulted in the death of six members of Mr Ziada’s immediate family.
Mr Ziada, who is of Palestinian origin, contends that he is unable to gain access to justice in Israel due to the discriminatory practices faced by Palestinians seeking accountability for war crimes. The case is being pursued in accordance with Dutch law which upholds the principle of universal jurisdiction in civil proceedings for citizens who are unable to gain access to justice elsewhere. It is a unique case and the first time a Palestinian has been able to make use of civil litigation on the basis of universal jurisdiction to gain access to justice for war crimes. Mr Ziada is represented by Liesbeth Zegveld, a prominent human rights lawyer from Amsterdam.
The bombing of the Ziada family home in the Bureij refugee camp, Gaza, took place on July 20th, 2014. It was a targeted IDF attack that resulted in the death of Ismail Ziada’s 75-year-old mother, three brothers, his sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a visiting friend. Mr Ziada contends that the attack on the family home was a violation of international humanitarian law and constituted a gross violation of internationally recognised human rights principles.
During the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014, approximately 2000 Palestinians, including 500 children, were killed. The Israeli military operation, codenamed “Protective Edge”, was a widespread and systematic attack on civilian targets with the vast majority of casualties being non-combatants.
Mr Gantz and Mr Eshel claim immunity from the Dutch court and contend that Mr Ziada should have presented his claim in an Israeli court. Neither Mr Gantz nor Mr Eshel are expected to be present on the day of the hearing. They will be represented by the law firms Florent and Jahea Raymakers. Since his retirement, Mr Gantz has formed a new political party “Hosen Le-Yisrael” (Israel Resilience Party). On the day of the hearing, Mr Gantz will be running for office against Benjamin Netanyahu in the Israeli national elections.
The Palestinian Justice Campaign is an international, single-issue group of concerned citizens, trade unionists and human rights workers who volunteer to assist the Ziada family in their pursuit for justice.