Top Dutch court upholds immunity ruling in Gaza case

The case also named former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel.

The top Dutch court upheld an appeals ruling Friday that said former Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz was immune from prosecution in a case relating to a deadly 2014 air strike in Gaza.

Palestinian-Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada sought damages for alleged war crimes after losing six relatives in the attack during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge targeting Gaza.

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His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court in The Hague after the Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling which found that the Netherlands did not have jurisdiction in the case against Gantz and a former Israeli air force chief.

“The Supreme Court rejects the appeal” by Ziada, it said in a written judgement.

Bureij refugee camp in Gaza

The rules of customary international law mean that “government officials… can invoke immunity from jurisdiction in civil cases… regardless of the nature and seriousness of the conduct alleged against them,” the Supreme Court said.

Gantz, who was Israel’s defence minister between 2020 and 2022, was the chief of general staff of the Israeli defence force (IDF) at the time of the air strike on the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza on July 20, 2014.

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The case also named former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel.

The two Israelis had argued that it was against international law for one state to rule on the conduct of another.

Dutch courts agreed, with the case at the Supreme Court a final attempt to have it heard in the Netherlands.

At a previous hearing, Ziada told judges he was “seeking justice” in the Netherlands because of his Dutch nationality and would not get a fair hearing before an Israeli court.

Israel said it launched Protective Edge at the time to stop rocket fire against its citizens and destroy tunnels used for smuggling weapons and militants.

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The operation left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, most of them civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

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