Dutch Court Not Competent to Hear War Crimes Case Against Gantz

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks during a news conference in Washington, Monday. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A Dutch district court on Wednesday ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to hear a case against former IDF chief Benny Gantz brought by a Dutch-Palestinian who lost six relatives during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza in 2014.

The claim was filed under universal jurisdiction rules by the claimant Ismail Ziada. Judicial authorities in countries that recognize universal jurisdiction for serious offenses such as war crimes and torture can investigate and prosecute those crimes no matter where they were committed.

“A Dutch judge is not competent to rule on the case of the claimant,” presiding Judge Larisa Alwin said, explaining that universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility but not in a civil case.

In civil cases in national courts, Gantz enjoys immunity from prosecution due to his government function at the times of the alleged crimes, Alwin said.

Gantz was chief of staff of the IDF from 2011 until his retirement in 2015. He was commander during the 2014 war against Palestinian terrorists in Palestinian-run Gaza, when the incident took place.

About 2,200 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed, up to 1,500 of them civilians, during the conflict. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers were killed and five civilians.

Gantz is the main rival facing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an election on March 2.