Dutch supreme court: Israeli military immune from prosecution in Netherlands

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks to the media after casting his ballot on the day of Israel's general election outside a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch supreme court ruled on Friday that two Israeli former military commanders, including ex-defence minister Benny Gantz, are immune from civil prosecution in the Netherlands in a case brought over the deaths of six Palestinians in an Israeli air strike.

The ruling upheld a December 2021 Dutch appeals court finding that Gantz - a career soldier turned politician - and ex-air force commander Amir Eshel, as then-high-ranking Israeli officials carrying out government policy, could not be held liable in a Dutch civil case, "irrespective of the nature and seriousness of the conduct alleged against them".

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.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Stephanie van den Berg; editing by Mark Heinrich)