Dutch court bans sending F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel as they may be used to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity
02/15/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

The Hague Appeals Court on Monday, Feb. 12, ruled that the Dutch government should stop sending Israel spare parts for its F-35 fighter jets in the next seven days, saying "there is a clear risk that serious violations of humanitarian law of war" are being committed in the Gaza Strip.

Presiding Judge Bas Boele said the Netherlands "must prohibit the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of serious violations of the humanitarian law of war." It might be allowed to export the said parts to Israel in the future, but only on condition that they are not used in operations in Gaza, Boele added.

"We hope this ruling will strengthen international law in other countries so that the citizens of Gaza are also protected by international law," said Michiel Servaes, director of Oxfam Novib, one of the groups involved in the litigation.

Human rights groups led by Oxfam brought the case to the Court of Appeal, calling for the ban of the parts to Tel Aviv after the Hague District Court refused to do so in a December 2023 judgment. The higher court overturned that decision, saying in a statement that it "rules in the favor" of Oxfam, Peace Movement PAX Netherlands and the Rights Forum, "and orders the State to put an end to the further export of F-35 parts to Israel." The human rights organizations argued that the export of the F-35 parts makes the Dutch state complicit in war crimes as the fighter jets are used in Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip.

The parts in question are owned by the United States, as per a report on RT, but the Netherlands houses a regional warehouse where they are stored and sent to countries that comprise the F-35 consortium. Israel has received at least one shipment since October last year. "The delivery of U.S. F-35 parts to Israel in our view is not unjustified," said Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen, adding that the jets allow West Jerusalem to defend itself from threats from Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

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According to reports, a month after the initial attack by the Hamas back in October, Israel started using the F-35I Adir fifth-generation fighter in the conflict. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi even confirmed that one jet had been used in a close air support role to protect troops in the enclave. Tel Aviv operates two squadrons of the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft and has committed to acquiring a third.

Israel has stood its ground in claiming that its armed forces are not committing war crimes in the Palestinian territory. The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza reported that nearly 30,000 people have been killed since Israel retaliated to the initial Hamas assault that killed about 1,200 Israelis. The Israeli military says about 10,000 Hamas fighters are among the dead in Gaza. President Joe Biden's administration continues to support Israel and is even working its way to securing more money to fund its war. (Related: ICJ finds plausible genocide case against Israel, suggests military operation in Gaza is not "self-defense.")

95 civilians – 42 of them children – killed in unlawful Israeli attacks in Rafah

International NGO Amnesty International was able to gather fresh evidence that Israel recently held deadly unlawful attacks in southern governorate of the Gaza Strip that was supposed to be "safe." According to the non-profit's probe, there were four Israeli strikes – three in December 2023 after the humanitarian pause ended and one in January 2024 – that killed at least 95 civilians, including 42 children in Rafah, which it was supposedly the "safest" area in the strip.

In all four attacks, Amnesty did not find any indication that the residential buildings hit could be considered legitimate military objectives or that people in the buildings were military targets, raising concerns that these strikes were direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects and must therefore be investigated as war crimes. Even if Israeli forces had intended to target legitimate military objectives in the vicinity, these attacks evidently failed to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects and would therefore be indiscriminate. Indiscriminate attacks that kill and injure civilians are war crimes.

"Entire families were wiped out in Israeli attacks even after they sought refuge in areas promoted as safe and with no prior warning from Israeli authorities. These attacks illustrate an ongoing pattern of Israeli forces brazenly flouting international law, contradicting claims by Israeli authorities that their forces are taking heightened precautions to minimize harm to civilians," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, the organization’s Senior Director of Research, Advocacy, Policy and Campaigns.

She added that among those killed were a baby girl who had not yet turned three weeks, a prominent 69-year-old retired physician, a journalist who welcomed displaced families into his house and a mother sharing a bed with her 23-year-old daughter. "The testimonies that grieving survivors shared should serve as a reminder that these atrocity crimes in Gaza are a stain on the collective conscience of the world," said Guevara-Rosas.

Amnesty also reviewed the war diary published by the Israeli military's official page and found no reference to any of the four strikes. They sent questions to Israeli authorities twice in January and received no response as of press time.

Head over to Humanitarian.news to read more stories related to human rights violations being committed in the Middle East conflict.

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