The Netherlands must stop delivering parts for F-35 fighter jets used by Israel in Gaza, after a Dutch court ruled there was a “clear risk” the planes would be involved in breaking international humanitarian law – or genocide, if you prefer.
Dutch court F-35 ban: a “clear risk of serious violations of humanitarian law” by Israel
The Appeals Court in the Hague sided with a group of human rights organisations that argued the parts contributed to violations of law by Israel in its war with Hamas. The court’s ruling said:
The court therefore orders the State to put an end to the further export of F-35 parts to Israel within seven days.
There is a clear risk that serious violations of humanitarian law of war are committed in the Gaza Strip with Israel’s F-35 fighter planes.
The US-owned F-35 parts are stored at a warehouse in the Netherlands and then shipped to several partners, including Israel, via existing export agreements.
In December, the District Court in the Hague had said that supplying the parts was primarily a political decision that judges should not interfere with. It ruled:
The considerations that the minister makes are to a large extent of a political and policy nature and judges should leave the minister a large amount of freedom.
Israel: ignoring the “consequences” of its actions
However, the Appeals Court overturned this ruling, saying the Netherlands:
must prohibit the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of serious violations of the humanitarian law of war.
Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks.
It also noted the attacks in Gaza:
have caused a disproportionate number of civilian casualties, including thousands of children.
Israel has conducted a relentless offensive in Gaza that has killed at least 28,000 people as of Monday 12 February, mostly women and children.
Could the Netherlands be complicit in genocide?
Dutch authorities had originally said it was not clear whether they even had the power to intervene in the deliveries, 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 the warehouse based in the Netherlands, Israel could easily procure them elsewhere.
Export licences were granted in 2016 for an unlimited time. However, the court ruled the situation had radically changed since then and the government had to take that into account.
The Dutch court said:
The fact that the licences are concluded for an unlimited time does not mean that the State can close its eyes to what happens afterwards.
Dutch court F-35 ban: saving civilians in Gaza?
The International Court of Justice in The Hague, which rules on disputes between states, has said Israel must do everything possible to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza.
That ruling “strengthen[ed] our confidence in a positive ruling in our case”, said PAX Netherlands, one of the rights groups involved in the appeal.
“This positive ruling by the judge is very good news. Especially for the civilians in Gaza,” said Michiel Servaes, head of Oxfam Novib, another group involved in the appeal.
Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse
Featured image via Sky News Australia – YouTube