The Dutch government has seven days to stop supplying Israel with spare parts for its American-made F-35 warplanes, a national court in The Hague has ruled.
Meanwhile, a second major Japanese company has cut ties with Israel’s biggest arms firm in another sign of international alarm as Tel Aviv moves to escalate its genocide in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah.
“This positive ruling by the judge is very good news, especially for civilians in Gaza. It is an important step to force the Dutch government to adhere to international law, which the Netherlands has strongly advocated for in the past,” said Michiel Servaes, executive director of Oxfam Novib, one of the three rights groups that brought the case.“It is a pity that this legal action was necessary and, unfortunately, has taken four months to come to this conclusion,” Servaes added. “We hope that this verdict can encourage other countries to follow suit, so that civilians in Gaza are protected by international law.”
The court decision is particularly significant because the Dutch Air Force base in Woensdrecht is the regional center responsible for managing the entire stockpile of F-35 spare parts for Europe and Israel.
Oxfam Novib, PAX and the Rights Forum brought the lawsuit after the Dutch government refused to suspend its export licenses to Israel.
“The court finds that there is a clear risk that Israel’s F-35 fighter jets might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law,” according to a summary of the ruling. “Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences of its attacks for the civilian population. Israel’s attacks on Gaza have resulted in a disproportionate number of civilian casualties, including thousands of children.”
Since Israel began its genocidal extermination campaign in Gaza in October, it has killed at least 28,000 Palestinians, injured tens of thousands more, forcibly displaced the vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents and systematically destroyed housing and infrastructure.
Dutch government committed to participating in genocide
The Netherlands is legally obligated to act to suspend arms exports anytime there is a clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law, and the government violated those obligations by continuing to export spare parts, the court found.
Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights group, called the Dutch court’s ruling an “encouraging development” and urged the Netherlands “to fulfill its legal obligations under international law and immediately halt the provision of arms and other forms of military assistance to Israel.”But the Dutch government, a staunch supporter of Israel with a history of directly rewarding Tel Aviv’s war crimes, has said it will appeal to the country’s supreme court to ensure that it can, in effect, continue to participate in the Gaza genocide.
Rights defenders are hoping that the Dutch court ruling is a good omen for a similar case currently before Britain’s high court and that it may set a precedent in other countries as well.
Already, Spain and Belgium’s Wallonia region have voluntarily suspended weapons exports to Israel.
Nippon Aircraft Supply cuts ties with Elbit Systems
The decision by the aerospace company came just days after another Japanese conglomerate, Itochu, announced that it was severing ties with Elbit.
Itochu cited last month’s International Court of Justice decision ordering Israel to immediately halt what the judges determined could plausibly be called a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.While the ICJ decision is undoubtedly already influencing governments and companies fearful of being directly implicated in genocide, credit is due to grassroots campaigners who are pressuring these institutions to act.
A petition launched by Students and Youths for Palestine in December calling on Itochu and Nippon Aircraft Supply to end their relationship with Elbit has garnered more than 33,000 signatures.
Last week in Tokyo, members of the activist group held a protest outside the offices of Nippon Aircraft Supply.
Similar protests in Osaka and Nagoya have been aimed at pressuring other companies to take similar action. Photos of protests in solidarity with Gaza in Tokyo and Nagoya have been shared online: