A court in The Hague ruled that the Netherlands has to end exports of parts for US Lockheed Martin F35 fighter jets to Israel, due to “a clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law” in the Gaza Strip.
The decision means the Dutch Government now has to end all deliveries to Israel within seven days.
The ruling was made by the appeal court in The Hague on February 12. The case had been brought by NGOs Oxfam Novib, PAX and The Rights Forum.
“Israel does not sufficiently take into account the consequences for the civilian population in its attacks,” the judges said.
“Israel’s attacks have disproportionately killed civilians, including thousands of children.”
The plaintiffs said the fighter jets would contribute to a potential genocide and serious and widespread violations of the martial law.
In first instance, a previous court had dismissed the claim, saying the situation in Gaza was “too complex to establish that Israel seriously violates international humanitarian law of war”.
On appeal, the Hague court stated there was “a clear risk” that Israel violated international humanitarian law.
“At this moment, a definitive legal judgment on whether Israel seriously violates international humanitarian law cannot be given, that is true in itself,” the ruling judge said.
“The court does not provide such a judgment.
“However, that is not the issue in this case. The sole focus of this case is whether there is a clear risk that the exported F-35 components to Israel will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law.
“The court rules that it is undeniable that there is indeed a clear risk.”
The original export licence was given in 2016, for an indefinite period. This, the Dutch Government said, meant no new decision was needed. The court disagreed, stating the situation on the ground had changed “too much”.
According to the Hague court, the Dutch ministry, under Geoffrey van Leeuwen, was obliged to re-evaluate the export license in light of Israel’s actions after October 7, 2023 – when the terrorist organisation Hamas launched its attacks.
“In accordance with various international agreements, to which the Netherlands is a party, the export of military goods must be prohibited if there is a clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law,” the judgment read.
“This means that the export of F-35 components to Israel from the Netherlands is not permitted.
“The minister, in his decision not to intervene in the export licence, has failed to comply with these international obligations.
“Therefore, the court orders the State to cease further export of F-35 components to Israel within seven days.”
The Netherlands is regarded as a major European hub for component delivery from the US for F35 parts. Logistic parts of equipment are housed in a centre at the airbase in Woensdrecht, from which it exports them to European countries that operate the fighter jets, as well as Israel.
The Dutch Government claimed such exports are essential to keep up “good relations” with the US and Israel.
It is also claimed that the parts are in essence American, and therefore it is not for the Dutch to ban them from reaching Israel.
Van Leeuwen said he would be “reviewing” the decision.
The State was granted permission by the court to renew its licence for the F-35 components, on the condition that Israel does not deploy the F-35 in operations in Gaza.