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Dutch court to hear appeal over alleged Gantz war crimes in Gaza

Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz arrives for a photo at the President's residence during a ceremony for the new coalition government in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2021 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2021 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]

A Dutch court will hear an appeal next week against Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and co-defendant Amir Eshel for their alleged role in the murder of a family during Israel's 2014 military offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli air force bombed Ismail Ziada's family home in Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on 20 July 2014. Ziada's 70-year-old mother, three of his brothers, the wife of one of his brothers, his 12-year-old nephew, and a visitor who happened to be at the house at the time of the attack were killed. Gantz was chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces at that time and Eshel commanded the air force.

Dutch-Palestinian Ziada sued the Israelis for more than $600,000 in damages plus court costs. A court in the Netherlands dismissed the case last year because the alleged crimes were committed while Gantz and Eshel acted in an official capacity. It also argued that it did not have jurisdiction in this case.

However, under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, universal jurisdiction allows domestic courts to prosecute individuals for serious crimes that did not take place on their territory or were committed by their nationals. Despite this, previous attempts to prosecute Israeli officials under universal jurisdiction have failed.

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