Dutch court bans export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel

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A Dutch court has ordered the government to stop sending spare parts for F-35 fighter jets to Israel, amid mounting international pressure over the way the Jewish state is conducting the war against Hamas in Gaza.

The appeals court in the Netherlands said there was “a clear risk” that serious violations of international human rights law were being committed in the Gaza Strip with the use of Israel’s US-made fighters.

The ruling came as the UK said separately that it would impose sanctions on four Israeli settlers who it said had “committed human rights abuses against Palestinian communities” in the occupied West Bank.

In the Dutch case, brought by human rights groups, the court said: “Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks . . . The court therefore orders the state to put an end to the further export of F-35 parts to Israel within seven days.”

Liesbeth Zegveld, the lead lawyer for Oxfam Novib, Pax Nederland and The Rights Forum, which brought the case, said after the hearing: “We are extremely grateful that there is justice and that the court was willing to speak out on justice.”

However, Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Dutch trade minister, told a press conference in Brussels on Monday that the government was “disappointed” by the court’s judgment and would file an appeal to the supreme court.

“Of course, we will follow the court’s decision. But we think this . . . needs to be tested by the highest court in the Netherlands because we think it is up to the government to decide what we do in this case. This is foreign policy, and it’s up to us to decide.

Van Leeuwen could not give a timeline for the appeal and said he was unsure whether Israel could obtain parts elsewhere. The Netherlands is part of a US-led consortium servicing the fighters.

Israel has a right to defend itself, including, with the F-35,” he said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to reiterate that message.

The Israeli government did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the court decision.

The ruling comes after the International Court of Justice last month ordered Israel to comply with international law on genocide, as well as to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Dutch government has been among Israel’s strongest supporters in the EU since Hamas’s deadly attack on October 7, during which militants killed at least 1,200 people and took 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

However, there is growing international concern about the human toll of Israel’s retaliatory attack on Gaza, which has killed more than 28,000 people, according to Palestinian officials. About 1.7mn of the enclave’s 2.3mn population have been displaced and large swaths of the territory have been rendered uninhabitable.

Spain has already banned weapons exports to Israel because of the conflict, while US President Joe Biden last week described Israel’s military operation in Gaza as “over the top” — his harshest criticism of the war to date.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels on Monday that the US should curb arms sales as a result. “If you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide fewer arms in order to prevent [it],” he said.

Meanwhile, the UK announced on Monday that it was imposing sanctions on four Israeli settlers who it said had attacked Palestinians in the West Bank, where violence against Palestinians rose in the two months after the start of the war.

The sanctions, which follow a similar move by the US earlier this month, will impose a UK asset freeze and travel and visa bans on the four.

“Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs,” the UK foreign secretary, Lord David Cameron, said as he announced the move.

“This behaviour is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through.”

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