In a case concerning the killing of six Palestinians in an Israeli air strike, the Dutch Supreme Court declared on Friday that two senior Israeli military commanders, including former defense minister Benny Gantz, are exempt from civil prosecution in the Netherlands.
The decision upheld a December 2021 decision by a Dutch appeals court that Gantz, a career soldier turned politician, and ex-air force commander Amir Eshel could not be held accountable in a Dutch civil case “irrespective of the nature and seriousness of the conduct alleged against them” because they were then-high-ranking Israeli officials carrying out government policy.
The plaintiff, Ismail Ziada – a Dutch national of Palestinian origin – said he lost his mother, three of his brothers, his sister-in-law and his nephew in the attack, which took place in Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza in 2014 when Gantz was Israeli armed forces’ commander-in-chief.
In the suit, Ziada sought unspecified damages against Gantz under Dutch universal jurisdiction rules, which allows countries to prosecute serious offences committed elsewhere.
There is no further appeal possible against the supreme court’s decision.
Human rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes during the seven-week war in Gaza in 2014.
According to U.N. figures, about 2,200 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed in that conflict, including up to 1,500 civilians. Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel also died, according to Israeli military and health officials.