Dutch lawyers seek court order to halt export of F-35 parts to Israel

Rights groups alleges selling jet parts implicates Netherlands in possible war crimes; Dutch government defends Israel’s right to self defense, says US would supply parts anyway

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)

Human rights lawyers went to court in the Netherlands on Monday to call for a halt to the export of fighter jet parts to Israel that could be used in srikes on the Gaza Strip.

The organizations allege that delivery of parts for F-35 jets makes the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes being committed by Israel in its war with Hamas.

The civil case in The Hague opened as the IDF renewed calls for mass evacuations from the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, where tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in recent weeks, as it widened its ground offensive and hit targets across the Gaza Strip.

Israel launched its offensive, aimed at eliminating Hamas, after the terror group’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including children and the elderly — many of them massacred amid brutal atrocities.

The rights lawyers want The Hague District Court to issue an injunction banning the exports of F-35 parts that are stored in a warehouse in the town of Woensdrecht.

“The state must immediately stop the delivery of F-35 parts to Israel,” lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the court.

Citing government documents, Zegveld said that Dutch customs asked the government if it wanted to continue exports after the October 7 attacks by Hamas that triggered the Israel-Hamas war.

Smoke rises following IDF strikes in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 4, 2023. (Said Khatib / AFP)

“The warning that the fighter jets can contribute to serious breaches of the laws of war does not, for the (Dutch) state, outweigh its economic interests and diplomatic reputation.”

Government lawyer Reimer Veldhuis urged the court’s single judge to reject the injunction, saying 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.

He added 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.”

A ruling is expected within two weeks and can be appealed.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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