Seven days was the strict deadline presented by the judges of a court government in the Hague to the Dutch to stop supplying military components to Israel. In a decision handed down on Monday, February 12, the Hague Court of Appeal found that there was “a clear risk” that the F-35 used by Israel, some components of which are exported by the Netherlands, would enable Israel to commit ” serious violations of humanitarian law” against the Palestinians in Gaza. The judges considered that “Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the [Gaza Strip] civilian population when conducting its attacks. Israel’s attacks have caused a disproportionate number of civilian casualties, including thousands of children.”
Since the airstrikes on Gaza began on October 8, 2023, more than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed. The 2013 International Arms Trade Treaty, ratified by many Western states, prohibits the transfer of arms when a state knows they could be used to commit mass atrocities.
As early as November 2023, a diplomat at the Netherlands embassy in Tel Aviv expressed concern about the Israeli army’s modus operandi in Gaza. At the same time, three NGOs – Oxfam Novib, Pax and The Rights Forum – filed suit with the Netherlands courts. Just before the hearings, in mid-January, some 20 diplomats and senior civil servants criticized Mark Rutte’s outgoing government. They attacked the prime minister for wanting to win favor with the United States to win the post of Secretary General of NATO.
The Netherlands “respects the court’s decision and will implement it,” said the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, in a statement, while announcing that it would appeal in cassation. “In the government’s view, the distribution of American F-35 parts is not illegal. The government believes it is up to the State to determine its foreign policy,” it said in the statement. This was also the position of the court of first instance, which handed down its decision in December 2023.
The ministry also announced the organization of consultations with F-35 program partners, to guarantee the Netherlands’ position role. At stake is the “reliability” of the Netherlands “in international and European defense cooperation.”The Dutch government said it believes that F-35 aircraft are “crucial for Israel’s security, in particular with regard to threats emanating from the region,” which it said includes Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
The parts in question are used in the manufacture of these fighter jets and are stored at the Woensdrecht base in the south-west of the Netherlands, a regional distribution center for US manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
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