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Friday, July 19, 2024

NATO member to stop sending F-35 parts to Israel

A Dutch court has blocked the exports, citing risk of human rights violations in Gaza

The Appeals Court in The Hague ruled on Monday that the Netherlands must stop sending Israel spare parts for its F-35 fighter jets, saying that there is a risk that the US-made aircraft are being used for “serious violations of international humanitarian law” against Palestinians.

Responding to a lawsuit launched by several human rights groups in December, a lower court ruled that the sale of fighter-jet parts was a political decision. The appeals court disagreed.

The Netherlands “must prohibit the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of serious violations of the humanitarian law of war,” the judges said on Monday.

The Dutch government might be allowed to export F-35 parts to Israel in the future, but only on condition that they are not used in operations in Gaza, according to Presiding Judge Bas Boele.

“We hope this ruling will strengthen international law in other countries so that the citizens of Gaza are also protected by international law,” said Michiel Servaes, director of Oxfam Novib, one of the groups involved in the litigation.

The Dutch government must comply with the court order within seven days. Its request to suspend the order pending appeal to the Supreme Court has been rejected.

The parts in question are owned by the US, but the Netherlands houses a regional warehouse where they are stored and sent to countries that comprise the F-35 consortium. Israel has received at least one shipment since October last year.

“The delivery of US F-35 parts to Israel in our view is not unjustified,” said Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen, adding that the jets allow West Jerusalem to defend itself from threats “from Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.”

An estimated 1,200 Israelis died in a series of raids by Hamas in the vicinity of Gaza on October 7. Israel responded by declaring “war” on the Palestinian group and launching an offensive against the enclave. Most of Gaza’s two million residents have since been displaced and more than 28,000 Palestinians killed in the onslaught, according to local authorities.

Israel has denied committing any war crimes or violations of humanitarian law in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that most of the Palestinians killed were “terrorists” and Hamas fighters.

Last month, the International Court of Justice ordered West Jerusalem to “prevent acts of genocide” in its war against Hamas, acting on a complaint pressed by South Africa. Human rights groups have cited the ruling in calls to block the sale of weapons to Israel.