Israeli Farmers to Sue Hamas in the Hague Over Airborne Firebombs

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A fire caused by an incendiary balloon near Kibbutz Be'eri.
A fire caused by an incendiary balloon near Kibbutz Be'eri in the Gaza border region, June 2018. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israeli farmers who live near the Gaza border and whose fields have been burned by airborne firebombs from the Strip plan to file suit against the leadership of Hamas in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The farmers, who landed in the Netherlands on Monday morning, hold the leadership of Hamas responsible for what they claim are violations of the Rome Statute, which governs the International Criminal Court. Their allegations include the burning of agricultural areas with the use of the incendiary devices, attacks on the Israeli border, the use of children in combat and of the civilian population of Gaza as human shields.

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According to a statement, the suit is to be filed by the Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin. There are also plans to install a display opposite the court building in The Hague documenting the damage caused by the incendiary kites and balloons. The Hamas leadership named as parties in the suit include the head of its political bureau, Khaled Meshal; his deputy, Saleh al-Arouri; and Zaher Jabareen, a Hamas member who was expelled from the West Bank after being released from Israeli prison as part of the prisoner exchange carried out to free the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Among the farmers in The Hague is the agriculture manager at Kibbutz Nir Am, which has had about 1,000 dunams (250 acres) of fields burned in recent months. He has been joined by representatives from Kibbutz Or Haner and Alumim, which are also near the Gaza border.

In a statement about the suit, Shurat HaDin's president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said: "The existing security reality in which fields and forests in Israel are being burned every day by activists from a terrorist organization is unacceptable. It is not acceptable that senior figures in Hamas accuse Israel of war crimes while they use [their] civilian population, particularly children, as a human shield for their terrorist activities – which are repeatedly directed at the citizens of Israel. As a result, we are calling on the International Criminal Court in The Hague to bring them to justice."

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