NGOs seek Dutch export ban for jet parts that may go to Israel

Protesters rally at a pro-Palestine demonstration in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on June 9, 2024. Hundreds of people gathered in a demonstration to show solidarity with Palestine and called on Israel for a ceasefire. [Getty]

Human rights groups returned to a Dutch court Friday seeking stricter enforcement of a court order to halt Dutch exports to Israel of parts for F-35 fighter jets used in the Gaza war, saying that the parts likely still wind up in Israel via the United States.

An appeals court ordered the Dutch government in February to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel , citing a clear risk of violations of international law if they are used in strikes on Gaza.

The government has appealed that ruling, but says it is abiding by the order pending the outcome by halting direct exports to Israel.

However, lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told a judge at a summary hearing at The Hague District Court that Dutch F-35 parts are still being delivered to other countries, notably staunch Israeli ally the United States and urged the judge to ensure those deliveries also do not wind up in Israel.

“We know that Dutch companies supply the United States and that they are also the only producer of some parts, including spare parts, and that the United States delivers parts to Israel and that the Dutch state has no control over deliveries from the United States — or, at least, it does not want to enforce control,” Zegveld said.

She added that if the court decides the government is not abiding by the earlier ban it should be ordered to pay a penalty of 50,000 euros ($53,500) each day until it complies.

Reimer Veldhuis, a lawyer representing the Dutch state, told the court the Netherlands is abiding by the earlier order and cautioned that seeking to prevent more exports of F-35 parts to nations other than Israel could put at risk supplies to militaries around the world who operate the advanced fighter jets at a time of soaring international tensions.

Rolien Sasse, of the Dutch rights group PAX, told the court it should order the Netherlands to take proactive measures to prevent parts made in the Netherlands being installed in Israeli fighter jets. PAX launched the summary proceedings along with Oxfam Novib and The Rights Forum.

She said the government “has a duty to ensure that no Dutch component can end up in Israel, not even via the US. It is this route that is still wide open. The government must also close this firmly.”

In January, a lower court sided with the government , allowing the Dutch to continue sending US-owned parts stored at a warehouse in the town of Woensdrecht to Israel. The Netherlands is home to one of three F-35 European regional warehouses.

Israel’s nearly nine-month offensive in Gaza has killed over 37,700 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Thousands of women and children are among the dead.

Hamas’ surprise attack into Israel on Oct. 7, led to the killing of some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage.

The Dutch court set July 12 as the tentative date to deliver its decision.

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