Lawsuit against Dutch state: stop delivery of F-35s

Image: Jeroen Jumelet/ANP

January 18, 2024

updated: 12/2/2024

The Dutch government is supplying (spare) fighter jet parts to the Israeli Air Force for use in Gaza, despite serious war crimes being committed there. We found this unacceptable. That is why we sued the Dutch government with partners Oxfam Novib and The Rights Forum. On appeal, we won this case! The court in The Hague ruled in our favour and ordered the State to stop further exports of F-35 parts to Israel within 7 days. Unfortunately, the government announced today that it will appeal in cassation. So we still need your help: support us with a one-off contribution for this lawsuit. (link only in Dutch)

The lawsuit

Oxfam Novib, PAX and The Rights Forum demanded 4 December 2023 in summary proceedings the immediate cessation of the supply of parts for Israeli F-35 fighter jets. The plaintiffs argued that by allowing arms exports, the Netherlands is complicit in possible violations of the law of war in Gaza. The news about the delivery of components of F-35 fighter jets, despite warnings by officials of “serious violations”, came to light through publications by Dutch newspaper NRC. Subsequently, the cabinet confirmed the deliveries and indicated its intention to go ahead with them. Interestingly, ministers also announced an investigation to answer the question of whether the Netherlands has the ability to intervene at all in delivery agreements of F-35 parts. This makes the review of these agreements against arms export policy and international agreements on arms trade all the more urgent.

The ruling

The ruling was on 15 December 2023. The ruling of the summary proceedings exposes a painful reality: through a legal ‘trapdoor’, the Dutch State continues to send supplies of (spare) parts for F-35 fighter planes to Israel. In doing so, the Netherlands is contributing to serious violations of humanitarian law of war in Gaza.

The appeal

As far as we are concerned, there are sufficient grounds to appeal. ‘The court recognises that F-35 fighter jets are involved in war crimes,’ says PAX arms trade expert Frank Slijper, ‘We are appealing because we believe the Netherlands does have to re-evaluate the export licence and thus stop supplies to Israel.’

The loophole used by the government is extra painful for the people in Gaza, where the death toll has now exceeded 24,000. The Netherlands also has a duty to prevent imminent genocide and not contribute to it. Arms exports to Israel should therefore be halted. International law, including various treaties signed by the Netherlands are very clear. This is not something to weigh up with other interests as is done by the state, but a firm obligation that the Netherlands has.

We therefore continue our fight for a necessary ceasefire and will raise these points during the appeal.

The appeal was heard on 22 January. The verdict was delivered on 12 Februari. The court ruled in our favour: the court finds there is a clear risk that Israel’s F-35 fighter jets will commit serious violations of the humanitarian law of war in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s attacks do not take sufficient in account what the impact on the civilian population will be. Israel’s attacks have disproportionately killed civilians, including thousands of children. Under various international regulations to which the Netherlands is part, the Netherlands must ban the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of serious violations of the humanitarian law of war.

The ruling means that no export of F-35 parts to Israel may take place from the Netherlands. The court ordered the State to stop further exports of F-35 parts to Israel within seven days. Although the government says it feels bound by the court’s ruling, it also announced today that it will appeal in cassation.

To fund this court case, we have jointly launched a specific crowdfunding with Oxfam Novib and The Rights Forum that will be used for this purpose only. As the legal costs have risen due to the appeal, donations are still very welcome. Donations for the lawsuit can be made here. (link only in Dutch)

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