Electronic Intifada: ’Israeli generals sued in Dutch court for killing Gaza family’

This article, published on the website of the “Electronic Intifada” on 29 March 2018, reports on the legal claim being brought by a Palestinian-Dutch citizen, Isamail Ziada, against two senior Israeli military commanders, before a Dutch court. The case, which is co-sponsored by the Nuhanovic Foundation, arose from the Israeli bombardment on 20 July 2014 of the apartment building in which Ziada’s family lived, killing six of them. According to the complaint, the attack was directed at a civilian object in breach of international humanitarian law. Ziada also claims that, contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law, the attack has not been independently investigated. He holds Benny Gantz and Amir Eshel, respectively the Israeli chief of staff and the chief of the air force at the time of the attack, responsible for the decision to drop the missile on the residential building, and seeks compensation for his losses.

The article explains that according to the complaint, Dutch courts have jurisdiction over the case on two grounds. Firstly, because Ziada’s is a Dutch citizen. This provides the link to the domestic judicial system that is often preferred before a state will exercise its so-called universal jurisdiction. Secondly, because he is blocked from obtaining justice in Israeli courts. According to Ziada’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, the Netherlands upholds a system of universal jurisdiction in civil proceedings for Dutch citizens who are unable to gain access to justice elsewhere.

The article goes on to list the several reasons why an independent investigation of alleged war crimes is not possible within Israel’s military-legal structure, and indicates that ‘insurmountable legal and practical restrictions on Palestinians pursuing justice’ would rule out any chance of successful litigation by Mr. Ziada before Israeli courts.

See the ‘Notice of Liability’ issued by Mr. Ziada’s lawyers in June 2017 in our section on OPT Cases.