Court orders Netherlands to stop F-35 parts delivery to Israel over war on Hamas

Dutch government vows to appeal after judge says there is ‘undeniable’ risk exported parts are being ‘used in serious violations of international humanitarian law’

F-35i fighter jets are seen at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel, in an undated handout photo. (Israel Defense Forces)
F-35i fighter jets are seen at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel, in an undated handout photo. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Netherlands must stop delivering parts for F-35 fighter jets used by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a Dutch court ruled on Monday following an appeal by human rights organizations.

The groups had argued that supplying the parts contributed to alleged violations of international law by Israel in its war with the Palestinian terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“The court orders the State to cease all actual export and transit of F-35 parts with final destination Israel within seven days after service of this judgment,” said the ruling.

“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 reading the ruling, eliciting cheers from several people in the courtroom.

The Dutch government said it would appeal the order, arguing the F-35s are crucial for Israel to protect itself from “threats in the region, for example from Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.”

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.

People stand by a banner accusing Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing outside the International Court of Justice, or World Court, prior to Israel’s response to South Africa’s claim of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, January 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

“In doing so, the Netherlands is contributing to serious violations of humanitarian law of war in Gaza,” the rights groups had argued.

Government lawyers have said banning transfers of F-35 parts from the Netherlands would effectively be meaningless as the US could deliver them from elsewhere.

Lockheed Martin Israel, the local division of the US aerospace giant that manufactures the F-35, said it was evaluating the impact of the ruling.

“We’re working closely with the F-35 Joint Program Office to evaluate the impacts the recent Dutch court ruling will have on our supply chain,” the company said. “We stand ready to support the US government and allies as needed,” it said.

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.

“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,” the court ruled at the time.

Dutch authorities had said it was unclear 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.

An F-35 Adir from Squadron 140 takes part in an Israeli air force show during the graduation ceremony for soldiers who have completed the IAF Flight Course, at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev desert, June 29, 2023. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

Government lawyer Reimer Veldhuis told the judge at the time that even if it were to uphold the rights lawyers’ legal arguments and ban exports, “the United States would deliver these parts to Israel from another place.”

He added that Israel has the right to self-defense.

“Israel must be able to respond to threats from the region. That must, of course, happen within the framework of international law,” Veldhuis said.

But he noted that the government “believes that a clear risk of serious breaches (of international law) through the use of F-35s cannot at the moment be established.”

According to the Lockheed Martin website about the F-35, every one of the high-tech jets has parts that were manufactured in Dutch factories.

The Israel-Hamas war began when the terror group carried out a devastating October 7 attack that killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians. Terrorists also abducted 253 people who were taken as hostages to Gaza. Of those, over half remain as captives, some of whom are believed to no longer be alive.

Israel responded with a military offensive in Gaza to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza, and free the hostages.

Palestinian children inspect the damage following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Gaza health authorities said Sunday at least 28,000 have been killed since the start of the war. The figures issued by the Hamas-run health ministry cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 10,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

International law experts have told AFP that human rights violations are likely being carried out by both parties to the conflict.

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 “strengthens our confidence in a positive ruling in our case,” said PAX Netherlands, one of the rights groups involved in the appeal.

Most Popular
read more: