This is a claim against the Dutch ministry of Defense for the harm caused by the bombing of a factory in Hawija, Iraq, in June 2015. The factory produced vehicle born improvised explosive devices for ISIS (and was as such a legitimate military target. However, the explosion damaged 400 buildings in the vicinity, including 248 in the residential area close by, and caused according to CENTCOM 70 civilian deaths.
These 14 claimants suffered harm ranging from physical injury to themselves and members of their families, to the deaths of (in one instance six) family members, the destruction of their homes, cars, savings and official documents, and in several cases the loss of their business or ability to work, or the loss of the family’s income due to the death of the main bread winner.
It has been established that none of the claimants had any association with ISIS. It is also established that ISIS had been in control of the Hawija district since June 2014 and that civilians were forbidden to leave the area, on pain of corporal punishment or death.
The Netherlands has already acknowledged responsibility for the bombings that were carried out by two Dutch F-16s. Indeed, in December 2014, the MoD recognized the possibility that it may be exposed to a claim for unlawful conduct in respect of this bombing. These claimants are asserting the Dutch state’s liability for the attack, as disproportionate to the expected concrete military gain and therefore contrary to national and international humanitarian law standards requiring such military attacks be carried out only after taking full account of, and minimizing to the extent possible, the risk of damage to civilians.