The Netherlands must stop supplying parts for F-35 fighter planes used by Israel in the Gaza Strip, after a Dutch court ruled on Monday that there was a “clear risk” that the planes would be involved in breaking international humanitarian law. .
The Court of Appeal in The Hague sided with a group of human rights organizations who argued that some parts contributed to violations of the law. Israel is at war with Hamas,
“The Court therefore orders the State to cease further exports of F-35 parts to Israel within 7 days,” the ruling said.
“There is a clear risk that Israel’s use of F-35 fighter planes in the Gaza Strip will constitute a serious violation of the humanitarian law of war,” the judge said.
US-owned F-35 parts are stored in a warehouse in the Netherlands and then shipped to several partners, including Israel, through existing export agreements.
In December, the District Court in The Hague said supplying parts was primarily a political decision in which judges should not interfere.
The court ruled at the time, “The considerations the Minister takes are largely of a political and policy nature and judges must leave the Minister a considerable degree of independence.”
But the appeals court overturned the decision, saying the Netherlands “must ban the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of a serious violation of the humanitarian law of war.”
“Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when carrying out its attacks,” the court said.
The attacks in Gaza have “resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties, including thousands of children.”
The war was launched on October 7 in response to unprecedented attacks on Israel by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Those attacks killed about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
The militants also captured about 250 hostages, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. Israel says about 130 people are still in Gaza, although 29 are believed dead.
Israel has responded to continued attacks in Gaza, with the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry saying at least 28,340 people have been killed as of Monday, mostly women and children.
‘Close your eyes’
Dutch officials had said it was unclear whether they even had the power to interfere with the delivery, which is part of a US-run operation that supplies parts to all F-35 partners.
Government lawyers also argued that if the Dutch did not supply the parts from a Netherlands-based warehouse, Israel could easily purchase them from elsewhere.
Export licenses were granted for an unlimited period of time in 2016, but the court ruled that the situation had fundamentally changed since then and the government needed to take this into account.
The court said, “The fact that licenses are terminated for an unlimited period of time does not mean that the State can close its eyes to what happens thereafter.”
International law experts have told AFP that human rights violations are likely to be committed by both sides of the conflict.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague, which rules on disputes between states, has said Israel must make every effort to stop genocidal acts in Gaza.
Pax Netherlands, one of the rights groups involved in the appeal, said the ruling “reinforces our confidence in the positive verdict in our case”.
Michel Servais, head of Oxfam Novib, another group involved in the appeal, said, “This positive decision by the judge is very good news. Especially for the citizens of Gaza.”