The district court has ruled that the Dutch court is not competent to hear the case, because the former Israeli officials have functional immunity from jurisdiction. This form of immunity, a legal concept in customary international law derived from state immunity, applies to acts carried out in the performance of a public duty. The air strike in the Gaza Strip, in which six of the claimant's relatives were killed, is an example of an act carried out in the performance of a public duty.
State immunity means that a state cannot be subjected to the jurisdiction of another state against its will. This concept follows from the principle of equality of states, meaning that equals have no authority over one another. States function through the acts of their officials, who – like states – can only be sued in domestic courts for acts carried out in the performance of their public duty. Only if the state in question, in this case Israel, waives this immunity can incumbent or former officials be sued in proceedings before a domestic court of another state, in this case the Netherlands. That is not the case here, as the State of Israel asserted the functional immunity from jurisdiction for the defendants via the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.