Dutch-Israeli soldier injured fighting in Gaza to be sued for 'war crimes' by Arab activist

Dutch-Israeli soldier injured fighting in Gaza to be sued for 'war crimes' by Arab activist
The new case brought by the newly formed March 30 Movement increasing concerns over European nationals participating in Israel's war on Gaza.
3 min read
29 December, 2023
Jonathan Ben Hamou prior to his injury in Gaza [Instagram/yonatan_benhamou]

A Lebanese-Belgian activist is attempting to take dual Dutch- and Belgian-Israeli soldiers serving in Gaza to court for alleged involvement in war crimes as Israel continues its devastating war on Gaza.

Dyab Abou Jahjah announced on 25 December in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that the newly formed March 30 Movement (30-3), had officially filed a complaint against Dutch-Israeli citizen and Israeli soldier Jonathan (Yonathan/Yonnie) Ben Hamou.

According to Abou Jahjah the complaint specifically notes that Ben Hamou, as part of the Israeli army action in Gaza, has allegedly engaged in war crimes and genocide.

This includes alleged acts of deliberately targeting civilian areas, engaging in collective punishment and targeting noncombatants as part of broader Israeli action in Gaza.

According to Israeli and international media reports, including the Associated Press, Ben Hamou was wounded in action in Gaza, losing his leg to a Hamas rocket launcher during battles in the besieged enclave. An interview with Ben Hamou by Gilad Perez in Rotterdam-based daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad identified him as half-Dutch, his mother from the city of Rotterdam.

The article states that Ben Hamou is a lieutenant in officer training and not a reservist.

What appears to be Ben Hamou's account on Instagram contains numerous pictures of himself on the frontlines in Gaza.

Speaking to The New Arab, Abou Jahjah stated that the case intends to "put an end to the impunity of Israeli war-crime and genocide perpetrators," of which "thousands of European nationals" are participants.

He emphasized that it was the intention of 30-3, which he is chairman of, to "initiate legal proceedings against all Israeli soldiers holding dual Belgian or Dutch citizenship," with the movement planning to collaborate with other European organizations to expand the reach of the initiative.

As well as taking European citizens to their respective national courts, 30-3 will also be represented in the upcoming elections in the city of Brussels under the banner 'VIVA Palestina', with the movement aiming to use "a combination of legal, political, and lobbying strategies that we hope will lead to a significant reevaluation of Belgium and the Netherlands' relations with Israel."

"This is a long-term commitment," he stated.

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In the UK, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has previously asked the UK government for clarity on the legality of British nationals fighting in the Israeli army, warning that British nationals could be complicit in war crimes. There are two known cases of British nationals who have been killed fighting in Gaza so far.

The New Arab has reached out to the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands for comment but has not received a response by publication time.

Israeli's military operations in the Gaza Strip, which have been ongoing since the 7 October Hamas attack on southern Israel, which killed 1,139 Israelis, has been described as a human "catastrophe" by the UN's General Secretary, with international law experts warning Israeli action could amount to genocide in the enclave.

Israel has killed 21,320 Palestinians according to figures from Gaza's health ministry, with a further 55,603 being wounded. Half of all buildings in the enclave are either damaged or destroyed, with close to two million people being displaced as a result.

Israel's blockade of Gaza has led to a severe deterioration of conditions in the enclave, with shortages of many basic necessities, including food, water, and medical supplies such as anaesthesia.

Israel has also been accused of deliberately targeting civilians, including journalists, with The New Arab's Diaa al-Kahlout being rounded up alongside hundreds of Palestinians for interrogation. 105 Journalists have been killed by Israel in Gaza since the beginning of the war.