An Israeli F-35 Lightning II fighter jet

An Israeli F-35 Lightning II fighter jet performs during a graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim base in the Negev desert, near the southern city of Beer Sheva, on June 23, 2022.

(Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

Dutch Court Blocks Weapons Parts for Israel Over 'Undeniable' Risk to Gaza

While the Dutch government plans to appeal, one campaigner expressed hope that the verdict "can encourage other countries to follow suit, so that civilians in Gaza are protected by international law."

With over 28,000 Palestinians killed by Israel so far in the Gaza Strip, a Dutch appeals court ruled Monday that the Netherlands must stop exporting parts for Israeli forces' aircraft due to the "clear risk that Israel's F-35 fighter jets might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law."

Oxfam Novib executive director Michiel Servaes, whose group filed the lawsuit against the Dutch government in December with PAX and the Rights Forum, declared that "this positive ruling by the judge is very good news, especially for civilians in Gaza."

"It is an important step to force the Dutch government to adhere to international law, which the Netherlands has strongly advocated for in the past," he added. "Israel has just launched an attack against the city of Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's population are sheltering, the Netherlands must take immediate steps."

Monday's decision on the U.S.-made jet parts stored in a Dutch warehouse followed a lower court declining to intervene in December.

The new ruling came as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was in Jerusalem to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is waging war in retaliation for the October 7 attack led by Hamas, which has governed Gaza for nearly two decades.

"It is a pity that this legal action was necessary and, unfortunately, has taken four months to come to this conclusion," said Servaes. "The judge had ruled that the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation was obliged to reexamine the arms export license to Israel, and that his decision was taken incorrectly."

While the appeals court ordered compliance within a week, the Dutch government plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. According toReuters:

"The delivery of U.S. F-35 parts to Israel in our view is not unjustified," Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen said.

He said the F-35s were crucial for Israel's security and its ability to protect itself from threats in the region, "for example from Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon".

Van Leeuwen said it was too early to say what effect the verdict would have on Israel.

"We are part of a big consortium of countries that are also working together with Israel, we will talk to partners how to deal with this."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir called out the Netherlands for "shamefully" seeking to continue its military support for Israeli forces.

Supporters of the Dutch ruling also highlighted that other countries, particularly the United States, have enabled the Netanyahu government, which claims to be targeting Hamas but has slaughtered thousands of civilians—including more than 12,300 children—leading to accusations of genocide from around the world.

Kenneth Roth, former HRW who is now a visiting professor at Princeton University, said on social media that it was "about time" for the Dutch decision. He added that the "undeniable" risk of exports being used for war crimes determined by the Dutch court "is equally true for parts sent by other nations."

Explaining the potential limitations of the Dutch ruling, Gareth Jennings, aviation editor at the defense intelligence firm Janes, toldThe New York Times that "if one supplier isn't able to deliver for any reason, the parts can be sourced from another."

Therefore, the decision seems to be "a symbolic act rather than one having any meaningful effect on Israel’s F-35 fleet," he said.

However, Oxfam's Servaes stressed that "we hope that this verdict can encourage other countries to follow suit, so that civilians in Gaza are protected by international law."

Appearing on Democracy Now! Monday, Palestinian American human rights attorney and Rutgers University associate professor Noura Erakat noted that both the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and a U.S. federal judge have found that Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza.

Although the U.S. judge also found that the case about the Biden administration's complicity falls "outside the court's limited jurisdiction," the ICJ case is proceeding and the court last month ordered Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza.

"We see Israel directly violating those provisional orders," Erakat said, pointing to the rising death toll, blocked humanitarian aid, and continued commentary from Israeli leaders.

"This is a warning to the world," she added. "Israel must stop its genocidal campaign now."

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