The Netherlands’ highest court ruled on Friday that former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was immune from civil prosecution over the deaths of six Palestinians in an airstrike undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces on the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war with Hamas.
The High Council of the Netherlands, which serves as the country’s Supreme Court, ruled that Gantz and co-defendant—former Israeli Air Force commander Amir Eshel—carried out state policy and thus enjoyed immunity under international law.
Analyzing case law, the court in The Hague cited “a rule of customary international law entailing that government officials can invoke jurisdictional immunity in the civil courts of another state pertaining to acts carried out in the exercise of their public duties, irrespective of the nature and gravity of the allegations against them.”
The justices upheld an appeals court ruling from December 2021 that Gantz was not liable, in accordance with the advice of the court’s Advocate General.
The 600,000 euro ($647,000) suit was filed by Ismail Ziada, a Dutch Palestinian from Gaza said to have lost six relatives during 2014’s “Operation Protective Edge.
Jerusalem said that it bombed a Hamas “command-and-control center” in the attack and that four terror operatives were killed. However, Ziada’s lawyers described Gantz’s alleged conduct as a “grave violation of international humanitarian law” and asserted that the Dutch courts had universal jurisdiction.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Friday welcomed the court’s decision.
“The Supreme Court of The Netherlands made it clear that there is no place to pursue lawsuits against the State of Israel, and those who act on her behalf, in foreign courts,” a statement read.