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Netherlands faces legal challenge over Israeli jet parts shipments

December 4, 2023 at 9:40 am

A picture taken from Israel’s southern city of Sderot shows an Israeli jet fighter F-35 over the northern Gaza Strip, on October 29, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

The Dutch government faces a legal challenge today over accusations that its role in the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel makes it complicit in alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip, Reuters has reported.

Three human rights organisations, including the Dutch arm of Oxfam, have brought the case at the district court in The Hague, claiming that the export of the fighter plane parts enables Israel to bomb Gaza.

“Israel disregards the fundamental principles of the laws of war, such as distinguishing between civilian and military targets and the principle of proportionality,” in the bombing of the Gaza Strip, the organisations pointed out in their court filings. Israel denies having carried out war crimes, saying that its forces abide by international law while fighting Palestinian resistance groups in the densely populated enclave.

According to the late Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff, however, “The Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously… [the army] has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…”

The Netherlands is home to a regional warehouse which stores US-owned F-35 parts, which can be sent on to other F-35 partner countries such as Israel. Several weeks after the 7 October Hamas attack on the occupation state, the Dutch government allowed a shipment of reserve parts for Israeli F-35s, government documents show.

Watch: Israeli air strikes leave Gaza’s disabled population in dire conditions

The Dutch Defence ministry, which oversees such exports, would not comment on the court case, but in a letter to parliament last week said that, based on the current information, “It cannot be established that the F-35s are involved in grave violations of the humanitarian laws of war.”

Israel launched an air and ground offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza after Hamas led an attack on Israeli army barracks and settlements in the vicinity of Gaza on 7 October. The resistance fighters crossed the nominal border into the occupation state and took around 240 hostages. Since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopter gunships and tanks of the Israel Defence Forces had in fact killed many of the 1,200 soldiers and civilians alleged by Israel to have been killed by Hamas.

The apartheid occupation state has since killed more than 15,500 Palestinians in Gaza, 6,150 of whom were children, and 4,000 of whom were women. More than 41,000 people have been wounded by the Israeli offensive, and at least 8,000 are thought to be buried under the rubble of their homes destroyed by Israeli bombs. Moreover, the healthcare sector in Gaza has collapsed under the weight of the casualties and attacks on hospitals and medical staff by Israeli forces.

The court case will hear the claimants’ case and a response by lawyers for the Dutch state. A ruling is expected in two weeks.