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2017 | Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld sends a 'Notice of Liability' to Israeli commanders on behalf of client Ziada

In June 2017, Dutch lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and and Lisa-Marie Komp sent a ‘Notice of Liability’ to Mr. Benjamin Gantz, former Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff and Mr. Amir Eshel, IDF Air Force Commander. They are held liable for current and future material and immaterial damages suffered by their client Mr. Ismail Ziada, for the killing of members of his family during a single incident during the Gaza war in 2014.  It is the first ever civil claim against the Israeli army for killing civilians during its attacks on Gaza in 2014.

Mr. Ziada, a Dutch citizen resident in the Netherlands, lost six family members during a missile attack on 20 July 2014 launched in the context of the military offensive in the Gaza Strip named "Operation Protective Edge" (OPE). During OPE, Israel carried out thousands of airstrikes on Gaza, including targeted attacks on residential and other civilian buildings. The attack, carried out under the responsibility of the aforementioned military commanders, specifically targeted and destroyed the apartment building in which Mr. Ziada’s family members lived. The building was located in a Gaza refugee camp. Mr. Ziada claims that the attack was directed at a civilian object, disproportionate, and conducted without effective prior warning. Consequently, it breached the laws and customs of war and amounts to a war crime. The Notice of Liability lists the international humanitarian laws that have allegedly been violated by this bombardment.

In November 2018, both Israeli military officers submitted a response to the Notice of Liability and appointed a Dutch lawyer to represent them. On 17 September 2019, a court  hearing was held in The Netherlands, in which the court considered (1) whether the two defendants are protected, by functional immunity as State officials, from civil suit before a foreign court, and (ii) whether the court has jurisdiction in this case (given that the incident took place in another country and did not involve the Dutch State).

On 29 January 2020 the District Court of The Hague concluded that the defendants enjoy functional immunity from jurisdiction under customary international law as it stands today, and declared itself incompetent to hear the case in principal action 

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to cover costs of the Dutch court proceedings against the two military commanders, to obtain reparations for Gaza victims of bombing. 

News reports about this case can be found here. Go to our homepage (Legal Updates & Events) for more information about the Ziada case and the court documents.