The Hague- A Dutch Palestinian who lost six relatives during a 2014 bombing of Gaza sought compensation on Tuesday from former Israeli occupation forces chief Benny Gantz, who is contesting a tight election against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With voting underway in Israel where Gantz and Netanyahu’s parties have been neck-and-neck, Esmail Ziada invoked “universal jurisdiction” laws in a request for a Netherlands court to hear a civil suit against the ex-military head for war crimes.
Ziada wants compensation of 600,000 euros ($660,000) for the deaths of his mother, three brothers, sister-in-law and nephew when the family’s home in the al-Bureij refugee camp was bombed by forces under Gantz’s command.
“I struggle to stand in front of you today to gain justice and accountability,” Ziada told Dutch judges, referring to the “unspeakable tragedy” that befell his family.
Thom Dieben, a lawyer on behalf of Gantz and his co-defendant, former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel, told the court the case should be dismissed because it violated state sovereignty rules and Dutch courts do not have jurisdiction.
The bombing of the Ziadi residence occurred during a seven-week war in which, according to Gaza health officials, 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed.
Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians, and said its forces exercised restraint while confronting militants in densely populated areas.
Codified under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, universal jurisdiction allows domestic courts to prosecute individuals for serious crimes that did not take place on their territory or were committed by their nationals.
However, prior attempts to prosecute Israeli officials under universal jurisdiction have failed.