Possible war crimes cited as Netherlands' supply of F-35 parts to Israel ruled illegal

The Netherlands' supply of American-made parts for Israel's F-35 fighter aircraft is illegal under the humanitarian laws of war, a Dutch appellate court ruled Monday. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI

Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A Dutch appellate court ruled Monday it is illegal for the Netherlands to distribute American-made combat aircraft parts to Israel due to a "clear risk" of humanitarian law violations.

In its decision, the Hague Court of Appeal agreed with a coalition of human rights groups that the government's distribution of American-made parts for Israeli F-35 fighter jets is illegal under Dutch law to due to the likelihood they will be used in the commission of serious violations of the humanitarian laws of war as part of Israel's campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza.

The court, siding the groups Oxfam Novib, PAX Netherlands and The Rights Forum. agreed that Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks in Gaza, which it said have caused "a disproportionate number of civilian casualties, including thousands of children."

It ordered the government to stop supplying the parts within seven days,

Palestinian health officials say 28,000 people, including both Hamas fighters and civilians, have died so far in Israel's campaign against the terrorists responsible for the Oct. 7 surprise assault against Israel, in which 1,200 Israelis were slain and hundreds more were kidnapped.

The vast majority of those casualties are civilians, mainly women and children, the Palestinians say. Israel blames the high civilian death toll on a cynical strategy by Hamas to operate in heavy populated areas and use local population as human shields.

The potential risk to Gazan civilians has heightened considerably in recent days with the stated intention of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch an anti-Hamas offensive against the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have crowded to escape the assault elsewhere in the coastal enclave.

The Dutch government immediately vowed to a lodge an appeal of the decision with the country's Supreme Court. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Geoffrey van Leeuwen said the action would be taken within the next seven days.

"In the government's view, the distribution of American F-35 parts is not unlawful," he said in a statement. "The government believes it is up to the state to its determine foreign policy. The government is lodging an appeal in cassation because it believes the Court of Appeal did not take sufficient account of this."

In the meantime, the Netherlands said it would urgently consult with other members of the program to supply Israel with F-35 parts, vowing to do "everything it can to convince allies and partners that the Netherlands remains a reliable partner in the F-35 project and in European and international defense cooperation."

The F-35 program is essential not only for Israel's security but also that of the Netherlands and the Middle East, the government said, "in particular with regard to threats emanating from the region, for instance from Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon."

The human rights groups launching the suit hailed the decision.

"This positive ruling by the judge is very good news, especially for the civilians in Gaza," said Michiel Servaes, director of Oxfam Novib. "This is a important step to force the Dutch government to adhere to international law, which the Netherlands has strongly advocated in the past.

"Now that Israel has just launched an attack last weekend against the city of Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's population is in shelter, it is very important that the Netherlands takes immediate steps," he added.