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Ismail Ziada announces the forthcoming filing of a case against The Netherlands before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) following a decision by the Dutch Supreme Court to extend immunity to Israeli military officials Benny Gantz and Amir Eshel. Ziada accuses the officials of war crimes for bombing the Ziada family home, killing six family members in 2014, and argues The Netherlands has denied his right to access to justice by refusing jurisdiction over the case on grounds of immunity.



The Case in Short

On July 20th, 2014 the Ziada family home in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza was bombed by Israeli military forces. It was a targeted attack that reduced the three storey building instantly to rubble and left everyone inside it fatally wounded. Amongst the dead lay Ismail Ziada’s mother, three brothers, his sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a visiting friend. In search of justice and accountability, Ismail Ziada, who holds Dutch nationality, brought Israeli military officials responsible for the attack, Benny Gantz and Amir Eshel before courts in The Netherlands.
The case was initially heard before The District Court of The Hague in September 2019 and subsequently before the Appeals Court of The Hague in September 2021. In both the first instance judgement and the appeal, the Court ruled that Gantz and Eshel were immune from prosecution because the act of bombing the Ziada family home was an official act of the state of Israel, meaning they were entitled to immunity. The initial case and the appeal were funded and supported by our original crowdfunder "Palestine Justice Campaign". In 2023, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld the previous decision and confirmed the immunity of Gantz and Eshel before Dutch Court's in civil cases. Ismail Ziada is now taking The Netherlands before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). He argues that The Netherlands has denied his right to access to justice by refusing jurisdiction over the case on grounds of immunity. The fight for justice continues.

Latest Press Release

Today, Ismail Ziada announces the forthcoming filing of a case against The Netherlands before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) following a decision by the Dutch Supreme Court to extend immunity to Israeli military officials Benny Gantz and Amir Eshel. Ziada accuses the officials of war crimes for bombing the Ziada family home, killing six family members in 2014, and argues The Netherlands has denied his right to access to justice by refusing jurisdiction over the case on grounds of immunity.

Mr. Ziada, a Dutch-Palestinian citizen, sought accountability before Dutch Courts for the bombing of the Ziada family home on 20 July 2014. Approximately 2000 Palestinians—including Ziada’s 70-year-old mother, three brothers, sister-in-law, and 12-year-old nephew—were killed between July and August of 2014 in the Israeli military operation codenamed “Operation Protective Edge”. Mr. Ziada argues that the attack on the family home was a violation of international humanitarian law and constituted a gross violation of internationally recognised human rights principles.

The case was initially heard before The District Court of The Hague in September 2019, and subsequently the Appeals Court of The Hague in December 2021 and the Dutch Supreme Court in August 2023. Mr. Ziada brought his case before Dutch Courts because, like many others, he and his family are unable to gain access to justice in Israel due to the discriminatory practices faced by Palestinians who seek accountability for war crimes. Following the decision of the Supreme Court in August 2023, Ziada has exhausted all avenues in the Dutch legal system and has decided to challenge the Supreme Court ruling before the ECtHR, arguing The Netherlands has violated his right to access to justice, which is protected under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Ziada case is kindly supported by organisations, trade unions, and hundreds of individuals through an international crowdfunding campaign. For more information on the case background please follow this link: https://www.nuhanovicfoundation.org/pages/litigation-support/palestine-conflict-home/ziada-case-2

Background

On July 20th, 2014 the Ziada family home in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza was bombed by Israeli military forces. It was a targeted attack that reduced the three storey building instantly to rubble and left everyone inside it fatally wounded. Amongst the dead lay Ismail Ziada’s mother, three brothers, his sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a visiting friend.

Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) during “Operation Protective Edge”. The vast majority were non-combatants and over a quarter of all people killed in the operation were children under eighteen years of age.

In the fall of that same year Ismail Ziada, a Dutch citizen resident in the Netherlands, contacted Liesbeth Zegveld, a prominent lawyer, specializing in support for victims of war crimes and human rights violations. Ziada was committed to holding those responsible for the killing of his family accountable.

Saad Ziada standing in the ruins of the family home where six family members were killed

Papers were served on both the Chief of General Staff of the IDF at the time of the bombing, Benny Gantz and the Commander of the IDF Air Force, Amir Eshel. The working assumption was that neither officer would respond to the writ and the court proceedings would take place in absentia. However, just before the 3 month time period for submission of a response expired, both Israeli military officers appointed a lawyer to represent them. In November 2018, they finally submitted a response.

The original suggestion of initiating a criminal case was soon put to one side as previous experience indicated that it was highly unlikely that the public prosecutor would initiate criminal proceedings. However, Zegveld pointed out that the Netherlands upholds a system of universal jurisdiction in civil proceedings for Dutch citizens who are unable to gain access to justice elsewhere.

While the Ziada writ was focused on the fact that the bombing of the family home was illegal and a war crime according to international law, the response of the defendants focused exclusively on their alleged right to immunity and the Dutch court’s alleged lack of jurisdiction based on the argument that Ismail Ziada would have access to justice in Israel.

The recent Israeli court ruling against Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who filed a compensation suit against the Israeli state over the killing of three of his daughters in IDF shelling in 2009 is proof, if proof were needed, that this is most certainly not the case.

Public pronouncement

The first step in the quest for justice was the court hearing in the Hague in September 2019. The panel of judges made a public pronouncement on January 29th, 2020. In this first instance, the court found that it was not competent to hear the case because of the diplomatic immunity offered to Gantz and Eshel as agents of the Israeli state. On April 23rd, 2020, Ismail Ziada issued a notice of appeal against this decision, stating that the court erred in its decision to offer immunity to the defendants as such immunity is not enjoyed for war crimes. Subsequent rulings by the Appeals Court of The Hague and Supreme Court of The Netherlands upheld the decision to offer immunity to the defendants. Ismail Ziada is now taking the Netherlands to the European Court of Human Rights and fighting the denial of justice.

Funding is essential

The Ziada family has been using their own personal funds and some generous contributions from friends and supporters to pursue their case on behalf of all the victims of Israeli war crimes. If justice is to be gained for the Palestinian victims, the case needs our moral and financial support. It is important to stress that the case is not being taken for personal gain. Should the case be successful, any compensation received will be dedicated to a specially established fund for Palestinian war crime victims in general and children in particular.

Every donation large or small helps the Ziada family struggle for justice for the Palestinian people. Please contribute what you can and encourage others to do the same. All money donated will be transferred to the Nuhanovic Foundation, a registered non-profit charity that assists war victims who seek access to justice to obtain a remedy in the form of reparation, restitution or compensation. 100% of funds raised go towards the legal fees incurred in the litigation of the case including the first instance judgement, appeal judgement, supreme court challenge, and now the case against The Netherlands before the European Court of Human Rights.

This GoFundMe page has been established by the Palestine Justice Campaign which is an international single-issue group of concerned citizens, trade unionists and human rights workers who volunteer to assist the Ziada family in their pursuit for justice. If you prefer to contribute directly to the bank account which is managed by the Nuhanovic Foundation.
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A personal statement from Ismail Ziada following the Supreme Court Decision

“Today the Dutch supreme court announced its decision concerning the Ziada family case. It has confirmed the decision of the Appeal court that denies me access to justice and shields Israeli war criminals from being held accountable under the pretext of immunity.

We are disappointed and angered by today’s ruling. The Court has once again acted cowardly and shamelessly and chosen to put politics over people and blocked access to justice. Today’s ruling only deepens the injustice we have suffered.

Shielding criminals from justice is a crime in itself. This crime is being committed by none other than the Dutch Judicial system which is a system that looked upon in the world. But this does not come as a surprise since when it comes to covering up Israeli war crimes everything is permissable.
On the 4th of May this year Dutch Prime Minister Rutte said that The Netherlands was committed to pursuing accountability for war crimes throughout the world. Today, Palestinians are told that this commitment is neither absolute nor universal.

The Netherlands will apply selective justice and offer immunity when Palestinians challenge Israeli war criminals. This has been a long and challenging legal battle for the family. However, we are determined to see these war criminals brought to justice.

We are reviewing the Judgement and will seek grounds for appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. We hope that one day we can achieve justice for the massacre of our family and thousands of other Palestinian families who have suffered at the hands of Israeli war criminals
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Fundraising team: Palestine Justice Campaign (2)

Sam Gaunt
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The Hague
Nuhanovic Foundation
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Ismail Ziada
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