Israel Wants Dutch Case Against Gantz Dropped

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. (Flash90)

The Israeli Justice Ministry on Monday said the government has asked a Dutch court to dismiss war crimes allegations against Benny Gantz, an ex-IDF Chief of Staff who is challenging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the elections.

A Dutch-Palestinian man originally from the Gaza Strip is suing Gantz and the IDF’s former air force chief, Amir Eshel, for their roles in an airstrike on his family’s home that killed six relatives. The dead included a 72-year-old woman and a 12-year-old child.

The airstrike on the Zeyada family home took place during a 2014 war between Israel and Gaza terrorists.

The ministry said Monday an internal Israeli military investigation determined the airstrike had killed four terrorists, including three family members, hiding in the house. It said the attack was permissible under international law, and argued the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction. Gaza’s Hamas rulers themselves have said that two terrorists were in the building.

“Israel has several mechanisms in place and a robust legal system available to address allegations such as those raised by the plaintiff,” the ministry said.

“Litigating the lawsuit before a Dutch court would circumvent fundamental and long-recognized principles of state immunity. Accordingly, a motion to summarily dismiss the case has been filed in the Netherlands on behalf of the two former Israeli officials,” it added.

In a separate case, the International Criminal Court has been conducting a preliminary inquiry in the Palestinian territories that, among other things, is looking into possible crimes committed by Israel and Hamas in the 2014 war. The court said recently that it hopes to wrap up the long-running investigation “as soon as possible.”

Israel is not a member of the court and doesn’t accept ICC jurisdiction. But Israeli forces could face charges if they are suspected of committing crimes in the Palestinian territories. The court has accepted the “State of Palestine” as a member.