Widespread support for Gaza lawsuit against the Dutch state

Image: Mahmud Hams/AFP/ANP

December 4, 2023

Civil organizations taking the Dutch government to court over its stance in the Gaza conflict are receiving widespread support. Oxfam Novib, PAX, and The Rights Forum are demanding an immediate halt to the supply of components for Israeli F35 fighter jets in summary proceedings. Amnesty International also contributed to the lawsuit’s preparation, with several other NGOs expressing their support. Additionally, over 1000 individual Dutch citizens showed their support by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign. The case was heard on Monday, December 4 at the court in The Hague. 

The plaintiffs argue that by allowing arms exports, the Netherlands becomes complicit in potential violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza. The news about the delivery of F35 fighter jet parts, despite officials warning of “serious violations,” was brought to light through publications by Dutch newspaper NRC. The government has since confirmed these deliveries and expressed its intention to proceed. Interestingly, ministers also announced an investigation to determine if the Netherlands has the authority to intervene in F35 parts delivery agreements. This underscores the urgency of assessing the agreements considering arms export policies and international agreements on arms trade. 

The Fundamental Principles of International Humanitarian Law 

Liesbeth Zegveld, the lawyer representing the NGOs in the case, stated: “The total destruction, numerous civilian casualties, and statements from Israeli officials and military demonstrate that Israel disregards the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. UN experts warn of a potential genocide in Gaza. While Israel claims the right to self-defense, it must still adhere to international humanitarian law. The Netherlands should not risk contributing to violations; the rules are very clear on this.” 

No Other Solution 

Michiel Servaes, Director of Oxfam Novib, sees no alternative but to go to court. He said, “We have repeatedly urged, up to the highest level, for an immediate ceasefire, free access for humanitarian aid, and a sustainable solution that respects both Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The fact that the Netherlands may be indirectly involved in the bombings through the supply of military equipment makes it even more painful. My Oxfam colleagues in Gaza and over 2 million women, men, and children are trapped and fear for their lives.” 

Since the announcement of the lawsuit against the state, various organizations have expressed sympathy or support for the initiative. In addition to Amnesty International Netherlands, De Goede Zaak, Een Ander Joods Geluid, European Legal Support Center, Human Security Collective, Kairos Sabeel Nederland, Musicians Without Borders, Muslim Rights Watch Nederland, Plant een Olijfboom en Stichting Kifaia support the legal action to determine whether the Dutch government has indeed violated applicable rules and treaties. Finally, over 1000 people have made donations within a few days to financially support the lawsuit, and the crowdfunding campaign for the process is still ongoing. 

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