Dutch court dismisses war crimes case against military supplies to Israel

Human rights organisations argued that the exportation of F-35 jet parts made the Netherlands complicit in the war.

A Dutch court has dismissed a case brought by human rights organisations against the delivery of F-35 fighter jet parts, which are used by Israel in its war in Gaza.

The district court in The Hague ruled on Friday that it would not halt the exports. Delivering the parts is primarily a political decision that judges should not interfere with, it reasoned.

“The considerations that the minister makes are to a large extent of a political and policy nature, and judges should leave the minister a large amount of freedom,” the court explained of the ruling.

The United States-owned F-35 parts are stored at a warehouse in the Netherlands and then shipped to several partners, including Israel, via existing export agreements.

However, NGOs including the local branches of Amnesty International and Oxfam argued that the supply route makes the Netherlands complicit in the war.

the aftermath of Israeli strikes in Rafah
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

These parts “make it possible for real bombs to be dropped on real houses and on real families,” said Michiel Servaes, director of Oxfam Novib.

Dutch authorities said it was unclear whether they even had the power to intervene in the deliveries, which are part of a US-run operation.

“On the basis of current information on the deployment of Israeli F-35s, it cannot be established that the F-35s are involved in serious violations of humanitarian law of war,” the government said in a letter to parliament.

Liesbeth Zegveld, a human rights lawyer for the plaintiffs, dismissed that claim as “nonsense”.

The Dutch government, she asserted, is familiar with what she termed “the enormous destruction of infrastructure and civilian centres in Gaza”.

Government lawyers also argued that if the Dutch did not supply the parts, Israel could easily procure them elsewhere.

The war in Gaza, sparked after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, is currently in its third month.

Israel’s bombardment of the enclave is increasingly attracting criticism, even from the US, its closest ally. Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that the war has killed more than 18,700 people, mostly women and children, and injured nearly 51,000. Thousands more are thought to be buried under the rubble.

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