Court orders Netherlands to halt delivery of fighter jet parts to Israel

The court noted a clear risk that the parts are being used in ‘serious violations of international humanitarian law’.

Lawyers of the state Erik Koppe and Reimer Veldhuis
The Dutch state's lawyers failed to convince the court in The Hague, Netherlands, February 12, 2024 [Reuters]

A Dutch court has ordered the government to halt the delivery of parts for F-35 fighter jets used by Israel in its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The verdict, delivered by an appeals court on Monday, said there is a “clear risk” that the parts the Netherlands is exporting are being used in “serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

The court said it is likely that Israel was using its F-35s in attacks on Gaza, which are leading to unacceptable civilian casualties. It dismissed the Dutch state’s argument that it did not have to do a new check on the permit for the exports.

However, in response to Monday’s ruling, the Dutch government said it would appeal the order at the Supreme Court, arguing the weapons parts were crucial to Israel’s ability to protect itself from “threats in the region, for example from Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon”.

The ruling followed an appeal by Amnesty International and Oxfam against a lower court decision last year that rejected their argument that supplying the parts contributed to alleged “contributing to wide-scale and serious violations of humanitarian law by Israel in Gaza”.

Human rights organisations have accused the government of being complicit in war crimes by maintaining the deliveries.

In December, a court dismissed the case. It said the government had a large degree of freedom in weighing political and policy issues on arms exports.

Demonstrators hold flags during a protest outside the court building,
Demonstrators hold flags during a protest outside the court building, amid a case of human rights groups seeking to block the Dutch government from exporting F-35 parts to Israel, The Hague, Netherlands, February 12, 2024 [Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters]

However, that was dismissed by the appeals court, which said political and economic concerns did not trump the clear risk of violations of the laws of war.

The appeals court instead ordered the government to block all exports of the fighter jet parts to Israel within seven days.

“It is undeniable that there is a clear risk that the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law,” Judge Bas Boele said in the ruling, eliciting cheers from several people in the courtroom.

Israel has repeatedly denied allegations that it is committing war crimes during its military operation in the enclave. However, the International Court of Justice in January called on Israel to guard against any activities in the enclave that could constitute genocide.

The Ministry of Health in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Monday said at least 28,340 people have been killed in the besieged territory during the war, including 164 in the past 24 hours.

A total of 67,984 people have been wounded since the start of the hostilities on October 7 after Hamas killed about 1,100 people and took 240 or so captive in an attack on Israel.

Dutch authorities said last year that it was unclear whether they had the power to intervene in the deliveries.

The Netherlands houses one of several regional warehouses from which US-made aircraft parts are distributed to countries on request. The Dutch facility has supplied Israel with at least one shipment since the start of the war.

Government lawyers also argued that Israel could easily procure parts for its F-35s elsewhere if the Dutch facility did not supply them.

The court ruling ordering the government to halt the exports can be appealed by the Dutch authorities.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies