WASHINGTON - A Dutch man, who had been awarded one of Israel’s highest award, has returned the title in protest against Tel Aviv’s brutal killing of Palestinian civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to media reports from the Hague.
In an anguished letter to Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, 91-year-old Henk Zanoli wrote that after the death of four generations of his family by Nazi Germany, now his family is facing similar murders in Gaza.
Zanoli is related to the Palestinians through one of his nieces who married a Palestinian man. He has said that at least six distant relatives, including a grandmother and a child, were killed in an Israeli airstrike. Zanoli, who helped save a Jewish child from deportation to concentration camps, said holding on to the medal would be an "insult to the family."
“My sister lost her husband, who was executed in the dunes of The Hague for his involvement in the resistance,” he wrote. “My brother lost his Jewish fiancee who was deported, never to return.” Zanoli continued, “Against this background, it is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel.”
This comes as more than 1,962 Palestinians, including 470 children, have so far been killed and over 10,100 others injured in the Israeli military aggression against Gaza, which began on July 8.
International bodies and human rights groups say civilians account for the majority of the victims of the ongoing Israeli war. Women and children make the bulk of the civilian casualties there.
The UN Human Rights Council has recently passed a resolution, calling for an independent probe into Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. Human rights groups say Israel and its backers must be brought to justice for war crimes in the recent Gaza war. They argue that Israel should not be allowed to carry out its crimes with impunity.
Rights campaigners say Palestinians are held captive by Israel in an “open prison” across the besieged Palestinian coastal enclave. The region has been under Israel’s blockade since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living and poverty.