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Pro-Palestine group files legal cases for war crimes against dual nationality Israel soldiers

March 25, 2024 at 3:47 pm

Israeli soldiers are deployed at Erez border with heavy weapons and military vehicles in Erez, Israel on February 29, 2024. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

A pro-Palestine group based in Europe is ramping up its efforts for justice for victims of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, focusing particularly on legal action against soldiers in the Israeli military.

More precisely, the “March 30 Movement” is going after Israeli soldiers who hold dual nationality of European nations.

Since last October, when Israel launched its war on Gaza, the group has filed more than a dozen cases at local courts in the Netherlands and at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Its latest case was filed at the ICC last Friday against Yoel Ohnona, a French-Israeli soldier, on charges of torturing Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Haroon Raza, a lawyer representing the organisation, explained that the Movement’s “only goal … is to have everyone who is directly or indirectly responsible for war crimes and genocide in Gaza prosecuted and eventually behind bars.”

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The group’s latest complaint against an Israeli soldier came shortly after Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on how the Israeli army is increasingly worried about the growing number of legal cases against its members.

According to the report, the Israeli army has recruited dozens of legal advisors for its Military Prosecution unit and turned its international law department into a division.

These steps, according to Raza, indicate that the Israeli army is now aware that “this will be a problem (it will face) … for the first time in modern history.”

“So, something will happen and something will change, and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are worried and their soldiers are worried,” he told Anadolu.

Complaints against soldiers and officials

Raza said the “March 30 Movement” has filed at least 17 complaints with prosecutors in the Netherlands over dual nationals taking part in “the Gaza genocide”.

Earlier this month, the Movement listed the names of 11 Dutch individuals currently serving in the Israeli military against whom it has filed cases: Abel Yannai Bolink, Leah Rachmani, Sjib Vlaming, Jacob Vlaming, Ronny Katz, Jisjai Bloemendaal, Rouf Leraar, Jonathan Aharoni , Daniel Kipnis, Jonathan Ben Hamou and Romi Kipnis.

All of them “are implicated in various capacities related to accusations of genocide and other severe offenses,” the organisation said in a 2 March post on X.

“Dutch law stipulates that if you have dual nationality with Dutch nationality and you commit a crime anywhere abroad, the Dutch authorities do have the possibility to arrest, prosecute and convict you,” said Raza.

Other cases filed in the Netherlands include one against Akiva van Koningsveld, a Dutch-Israeli settler living in an illegal Israeli settlement.

A complaint was also lodged against Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, ahead of his recent visit to the Netherlands.

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At the ICC, the group has filed five cases against various individuals, including Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his ministers and officials in the War Cabinet for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide, said Raza.

The group intends to soon lodge complaints in Belgium, France and Switzerland against their citizens in the Israeli military, he added.

“Europe is the focus because of the jurisdiction, and because of the fact that many of these IDF soldiers do, in fact, live in Europe,” he said.

According to the lawyer, there are more than 4,000 French soldiers currently serving in the Israeli military.

His figure was in line with one presented by Thomas Portes, a French lawmaker from the La France Insoumise party, who said, in December, that he had asked the government to investigate reports that “4,185 French-origin soldiers were with the Israeli army in Gaza”.

‘Every step they’re taking is a war crime’

Raza explained that the charges being brought against these people “have to do with genocide or other war crimes, crimes against humanity, or aiding or betting or being complicit.”

They include torture, attacks on hospitals, ambulances and civilians and starving the civilian population, he said.

The complaints also focus on violations such as using “dumb bombs”, or unguided munitions, in residential areas, as well as the use of the banned white phosphorous bombs, he said.

“It’s regarding everything that the IDF is doing. Literally every step they’re taking is a war crime or a crime against humanity,” he added.

The group, he said, is asking authorities to “investigate, arrest, prosecute and convict them, but also take away their passports”.

‘Clear-cut confessions’ on social media

About the evidence against these individuals, the lawyer pointed out that the defendants have “been sharing everything via social media”.

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“I mean … there are clear-cut confessions. “They’re giving us information themselves, actually,” said Raza.

He said the soldiers, both men and women, have been “spreading evidence against themselves on social media via WhatsApp, via Signal, via TikTok, via Instagram.”

That “makes it all the more easier for us to compile and file cases against them,” he added, condemning their “shameless” actions.

‘People are behind us’

On his expectations for these cases, Raza said it was likely that some will be rejected or dismissed at the initial stage, particularly due to political considerations and the “Zionist narrative”.

However, he asserted that the group will file appeals in higher courts.

Chances of success are higher in Belgium, he said, explaining that laws there have the scope and power required to prosecute such cases.

“What we’re looking for is at least one precedent. “As soon as we have one conviction, even one arrest and one proper investigation … we are positive and we are confident that the other jurisdictions must follow,” said Raza.

The lawyer, who has been pursuing legal cases against Israel since 2008, believes the tide is changing, especially in terms of political narrative and public support.

“I think it’s the first time in history that we really see that people are behind us regarding these cases,” he said.

People are waking up to the actual meaning of Israel and what it is doing since 1948, said Raza.

“I think that it is quite clear that the public outrage is gaining momentum,” he added.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.