The Netherlands has to stop exporting parts of the F-35 combat aircraft to Israel, according to a ruling by a Dutch court in The Hague.
“The court finds that there is a clear risk that serious violations of the humanitarian law of war are committed in the Gaza Strip with Israel’s F-35 fighter planes,” the judges wrote in the verdict made on Monday.
The Dutch government was taken to court to stop the export by Oxfam Novib, Peace Movement PAX Netherlands and The Rights Forum, non-governmental organizations committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict in Gaza.
The three organizations believe the export of the F-35 parts violates the laws of war because the Dutch government should be aware that fighter planes are used for attacks in the Gaza Strip.
Demissionary Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Geoffrey van Leeuwen said the government will appeal the court’s ruling in cassation. According to Van Leeuwen, the court has not considered the government’s responsibility to shape its foreign policy.
The minister will, however, implement the court’s ruling for now. The deliveries must be stopped within seven days of the court’s ruling.
Parts for the F-35 fighter plane are distributed from the Netherlands to several countries, including Israel. These parts are considered military goods, meaning a permit is required for export from the Netherlands. That permit was granted in 2016.
Following Israel’s attacks in the Gaza Strip, the minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation assessed whether the export license for F-35 parts to Israel could be maintained. This assessment resulted in the minister deciding not to intervene in the permit and to allow exports to Israel to continue.
In a mid-December 2023 ruling, the court rejected the demand for an export stop. The judges then stated that the minister was not formally obliged to reassess the previously granted permit against the risk of serious violations of international law. Now, on appeal, the court ruled in favor of the three organizations. ■