Hawija: The Destructive Realities of Our Remote War Against IS

Jip van Dort, Lauren Gould and Marrit Woudwijk

Omslag van het boek ‘Hawija’ van Jip van Dort, Lauren Gould en Marrit Woudwijk (Uitgeverij Aspekt, 2022)

In 2015, the Iraqi town of Hawija is bombed. An entire neighbourhood is destroyed and at least 85 civilians are killed. It takes four years before Dutch investigative journalists discover who was responsible for the attack: the Netherlands. Researchers Jip van DortLauren Gould and Marrit Woudwijk, all involved in Intimacies of Remote Warfare, investigated the bombing and have compiled their findings in the new publication ‘Hawija’.

The airstrike was supposed to take out an Islamic State munition’s factory, but led to huge secondary explosions. The fact that Dutch F-16s carried out this bombing was not to be known to anyone.

Various perspectives

How could so many civilian casualties perish in Hawija, despite the following of targeting procedures and using precision weapons? Why was the attack kept a secret for so long? What impact did the bombing and its aftermath have on Iraqi victims, as well as Dutch democracy? And what does all this tell us about the nature of contemporary warfare?

Van Dort, Gould and Woudwijk concluded that these questions can only be answered by bringing together different perspectives. This led to ‘Hawija’, in which politicians, NGOs, researchers, victims, relatives and a human rights lawyer have their say.

Contributors to the book include Professor Jolle Demmers, Nora Stel (Radboud University), NGOs Airwars and Pax, politicians Sadet Karabulut (former SP), André Bosman (former VVD), Salima Belhaj (D66), human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld and victims from Hawija.

Devastating reality of remote warfare

Drawing on the Hawija air raid, the book shows the devastating reality of our remote warfare and calls for honest discussion on civilian casualties. The first-ever book on the bombing has become a reflection on dealing with civilians in war, developments in modern warfare and democratic values of transparency and accountability.

Read more about the Hawija bombing and the report published in April