Photostory: Protesters challenge US-Israel weapons flights through the Netherlands

SCHIPHOL AIRPORT, AMSTERDAM — Today, fifty protesters staged a “die-in” at Schiphol Plaza, the main entrance of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to demand an end to the transit of US arms through the Netherlands to Israel. There have been 76 cases of arms transit via the Netherlands to Israel in 2005 and 23 cases in the period between June and July 2006. The “die-in” symbolized the more than 1,000 casualties of the Israeli war on Lebanon and more than 150 casualties of the Israeli war on Gaza. The protest was supported by the Dutch Socialist Party, the Green Left, Campagne tegen Wapenhandel, the Dutch Palestine Committee, the Hague Peace Platform, the Palestinian Community in the Netherlands, Internationale Socialisten, Stop the Occupation and the Stop the War Coalition.

Members of Parliament Krista van Velzen of the Socialist Party and Ineke van Gent of the Dutch Green Left held speeches in which they condemned the bombardments targeting civilians and in which the Dutch hypocracy by allowing transit of arms via Schiphol Airport was condemned. Participants called for sanctions against Israel. With this protest, participants demanded that the Dutch government as well as the board of directors of Schiphol Airport end all transfers of arms to Israel.

The past week similar protests took place in the UK and Ireland. Last month, the Irish government stated that it would not grant permission for any flights carrying munitions of war to the conflict zone to stop over in Shannon or other Irish airports.

Governments supplying Israel with arms and military equipment are fuelling their capacity to commit war crimes. The Dutch government should have followed the Irish example.

British anti-war campaigners have unveiled a legal campaign against the British government’s involvement in the ongoing Middle East conflict, seeking to stop flights carrying weapons sent from the United States to Israel from stopping at British airports. Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar said that by British authorities were facilitating attacks on civilian targets in Lebanon and are therefore complicit in war crimes. US flights believed to be carrying bombs and other hazardous materials have stopped at Britain’s Prestwick Airport and RAF Mildenhall airport amid protests at each airport.

“Stop Arms Transit US-Schiphol-Israel”

The protesters at Schiphol airport also believe that the Dutch government is complicit in war crimes by facilitating transit of arms with which attcks on civilian targets have been carried out. While the Dutch government does not provide licenses for direct export of arms to Israel, through the transit of arms the Dutch government facilitates ongoing human rights violations. The protesters demand a consistent policy that does not allow export nor transit of arms to human rights violating countries.

Recent answers from the government to parliamentary questions reveal that in 2005 there were 76 cases of transit of arms through the Netherlands to Israel. Also during the months of June and July the Dutch government allowed 23 shipments through the Netherlands to Israel. Most arms, including millions of pieces of munition, came from the United States. The answers to the questions also reveal that the Dutch government doesn’t intend to stop this practice. This means that still arms are being shipped via the Netherlands to Israel.

Governments supplying Israel with arms and military equipment are fuelling their capacity to commit war crimes. All governments should impose an arms embargo and refuse permission for their territories to be used for the transfer of arms and military equipment.

All images: Kees Wagtendonk, Dutch Palestine Committee

Related Links

  • Delivering the bombs that kill civilians in Lebanon, Arjan El Fassed (31 July 2006)
  • Campagne tegen Wapenhandel
  • Dutch Palestine Committee
  • BY TOPIC: Weapons and Arms Trade
  • BY TOPIC: Israel invades Gaza (27 June 2006)