Israel wants Dutch case against ex-army chief dropped


JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli Justice Ministry on Monday said the government has asked a Dutch court to dismiss war crimes allegations against Benny Gantz, an ex-military chief who is challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April elections.

A Dutch-Palestinian man originally from the Gaza Strip is suing Gantz and Israel’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 militants.

The ministry said Monday an internal Israeli military investigation determined the airstrike had killed four militants, 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 militants 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.

Hassan Zeyada, a Gaza psychologist, said his family had turned to the Dutch court because it does not believe the Israeli military is capable of investigating itself. His brother Ismail, who lives in the Hague, filed the lawsuit.

“The objective is accountability,” Zeyada said. “It’s possible that our case will be a model for all bereaved families to achieve justice and accountability.”

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