SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Judges at The Hague appeal court on Monday ordered the Dutch government to stop sending F-35 jet fighter parts to Israel, citing violations of international humanitarian law.
Oxfam Novib, Pax Nederland and The Rights Forum filed the civil complaint in December, arguing that shipping F-35 parts which are owned by the United States, but stored in a warehouse on Woensdrecht Air Base, makes the Dutch complicit in war crimes in Gaza.
“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 January a lower court rejected the complaint, saying the situation was unclear.
The decision came as prime minister Mark Rutte was on a visit to Israel and Palestine to meet with leaders to discuss the conflict.
Lead lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said she was very happy with the outcome. “We are extremely relieved,” she told reporters after the hearing.
The NRC reported in October that the foreign ministry was aware that there were serious concerns over Israel’s attacks on Gaza but did not stop a shipment of the aircraft parts. The plane is used both for surveillance and for carrying out bombings.
The Dutch granted a permit in 2016 to send the US-owned plane parts to Israel. Following the October 7 attacks, the military requested more and the Dutch customs office asked the government if it wanted to review the permit.
The state declined. “On the basis of current information on the deployment of the Israeli F-35, it cannot be established that the F-35 is involved in serious violations of the humanitarian law of war,” the caretaker government wrote in a briefing to parliament at the time.
The Dutch have blocked the export of military equipment to Israel in the past. According to the NRC, between 2004 and 2020, the Netherlands refused to issue a permit for military goods to the country 29 times.
Aid minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen said on Monday afternoon that the Netherlands would appeal against the decision.
“We have agreements with other F-35 countries on the distribution, and the Netherlands must remain a reliable partner. And Israel needs the F-35 aircraft to defend itself against threats emanating from the region, separate from Gaza,” he said.
However, in Monday’s ruling, the court said the state had to stop the exports within seven days, whether or not it decided to appeal.