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Dutch man returns Israeli WWII medal after family killed in Gaza
Published Saturday 16/08/2014 (updated) 17/08/2014 21:00
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Palestinians walk amidst debris in al-Bureij refugee camp in the central
Gaza Strip, on Aug. 1, 2014 (AFP/File Marco Longari)
THE HAGUE (AFP) -- A 91-year-old Dutch man honored by Israel for shielding a Jew from the Nazis has handed back his medal after six of his relatives were killed in a Gaza air strike.

Henk Zanoli returned his Righteous Among the Nations award to the Israeli ambassador in The Hague this week after an Israeli F-16 destroyed his great niece's Gaza home, killing all inside.

"It is with great sorrow that I am herewith returning the medal I received as an honor and a token of appreciation from the State of Israel for the efforts and risks taken by my mother and her family in saving the life of a Jewish boy during the German occupation," Zanoli said in a letter dated Monday.

According to Zanoli's letter addressed to the Israeli ambassador, the bomb dropped by the Israeli military on July 20 during its massive Gaza offensive, flattened a four-story building at al-Bureij refugee camp, killing all inside.

"The great-great grandchildren of my mother have lost their grandmother, three uncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the Israeli military," Zanoli said in the letter, published by liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz and widely circulated in the Dutch media.

"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," Zanoli said.

The Righteous Among the Nations medal, which is given to non-Jews who stood up to the Nazi genocide during the Holocaust (AFP/File Gali Tibbon)

The Israeli Embassy in The Hague on Friday confirmed it was "familiar with the issue," but declined to comment or give details.

The nonagenarian was too frail to deliver the letter in person, but instead sent it, with the medal, to the Israeli embassy in The Hague -- the same place he received the accolade three years ago.

"For me to hold on to the honor granted to me by the State of Israel under these circumstances, would be an insult ... to those in my family, four generations on, who lost no less than six of their relatives in Gaza," Zanoli said.

Zanoli's family were outspoken opponents of the invading Nazis and his father was murdered in Mauthausen concentration camp. Zanoli's own brother-in-law was executed in the dunes outside The Hague for being in the Dutch Resistance.

The Righteous Among the Nations is an honor accorded by Israel to non-Jews who risked their lives to protect and save Jews during the Holocaust.

Almost 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in Israel's withering offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip, which it says is aimed at ending rocket fire.

"The actions of your state in Gaza these days have already resulted in serious accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity," wrote Zanoli.

"As a retired lawyer, it would be no surprise to me that these accusations could lead to possible convictions if true and unpoliticized justice is able to have its course.

"What happened to our kin in Gaza will no doubt be brought to the table at such a time as well."

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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1 ) Rick / USA
16/08/2014 10:56
An understandable reaction to Israel's indifference to the immense suffering it inflicts on Gazans. The IDF's conduct in Gaza was beyond reckless it was reprehensible.

2 ) MATT / NYC.USA
16/08/2014 11:33
I.salut you.for.this.action.sorry.for.yor.family.and.rest of palestinian civilians GOD BLES YOU AND.YOUR.FAMILY

3 ) Dahlia / Sweden
16/08/2014 13:44
Brave & courageous decision, by a 91 year old man who knows the suffering caused by war & genocide. It's a pity that the politicians who support Israel's genocide of the Palestinians don't try to see both sides too.

4 ) Susan / Cohen
16/08/2014 14:26
Actually, not so understandable, given the many innocent/non combatant victims of Hamas attacks, including Americans, not to mention the Gazans killed when 100's of Hamas's own rockets misfired and landed in Gaza. Someone who has relatives in Gaza knows that the bomb shelters and underground bunkers are forbidden to the general population to ensure the death of innocents. There's a lot more.

5 ) Arnold / Canada
16/08/2014 14:58
Rick#1. There is no give and take with Hamas. If you do not we this then you are a complete fool. Even now they threaten that if their demands are not met that there will be a war of attrition. In other words we ... Hamas... Are willing for more men , women, and children die till we get our way. And let the media get our demands met.

6 ) Gloria / Korea
16/08/2014 15:24
@1 Rick it is probably best not to assume the next time (tomorrow, next Month, or next year) for the Israelis not to defend themselves against radical militant Islamist armies. Jews just won't lay down and die. Mind you would you consider Hamas firing rockets and missiles at Israel for 10 years ''reckless '' and '''reprehensible''.

7 ) Mel / USA
16/08/2014 16:27
Bravo Sir!And mass condolences,for all Gaza families again,having to endure the hatred,racism &bigotry of Zionism in Israel under USG LARGESSE!This is EXACTLY why Israel is despised worldwide.Even the foreign leaders who give Zionist"special bond(age)"Israel IMMUNITY for 67yrs(for the sake of Jews),hate ISRAEL! But Israel is a Nazi STATE that just happens 2B Jewish(some barely so),And to have Zionism insult & spit on the world which gave Israel its chance to shine ABOVE Nazi filth,is CRIMINAL!!!

8 ) Farid / Malaysia
16/08/2014 17:16
What Israeli "DEFENSE" force??? What is the murderous Zionist entity is defending against??? Against crude inaccurate homemade rockets??? Compare it to what powerful military hardware the murderous Zionist entity possesses not to mention nuclear warheads all supplied by the U.S. the supposedly great "protector" of human rights with American taxpayers' money. 12,000 Gazans 75 percent civilians murdered & maimed according to the UN in one month alone compared to 64 Zionist invaders.

9 ) Julie / USA
16/08/2014 18:59
@1 Rick - the IDF's conduct was, yes, reprehensible, particularly because it was actually criminal, to say the least.

10 ) Johnny benson / USA
16/08/2014 20:03
...can't really blame the guy.....if really true

11 ) Ingo / Sweden
16/08/2014 23:58
"Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminatet or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develope only under the protection of a force independent of the local population - an iron wall which the native population cannot breakthrough. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy." Jabotinsky, Ze'ev, Vladimir, In 'Rasswyat', 4th November 1923

12 ) joey / phil
17/08/2014 04:38
what a shame for apertheid israel

13 ) Robert / US
17/08/2014 21:07
Henk, you did the right thing !! LOVE TO YOU, AND EVERYONE !!!

14 ) peter / south africa
17/08/2014 23:15
brave decision. We surport you and your family.
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