Dutch court blocks arms exports to Israel over ‘humanitarian violations’

A Dutch court on Monday ordered the Netherlands government to block the export of all F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel amid concerns of violations of international law in its incessant bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

"It is undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law," the court said.

The court asked the state to comply with the order within seven days and dismissed a request by government lawyers to suspend the order during an appeal to the supreme court.

The court order came just hours after Israel attacked the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza Strip, killing at least 67 Palestinians and injuring dozens.

People inspect the damage to their homes in Rafah following Israeli air strikes (Getty Images)
People inspect the damage to their homes in Rafah following Israeli air strikes (Getty Images)

Rafah, bordering Egypt, is the last refuge for 1.4 million Palestinians, who fled Israel's offensive and military advances in the northern part of the Strip.

The Dutch appeals court said it was likely that F-35s were being used in attacks on Gaza, leading to unacceptable civilian casualties.

More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in four months, according to Gaza health officials, in a retaliatory offensive after the 7 October attack by Hamas in southern Israel. Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and abducted at least 250 hostages during the offensive, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel denies committing war crimes in its attacks on Gaza, and says it works to limit civilian casualties.

The case against the Dutch government was brought last December by several human rights groups, including the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam.

Rights groups argued that the Dutch government shipments were “contributing to wide-scale and serious violations of humanitarian law by Israel”.

An earlier ruling by a lower court stopped short of ordering the government to halt the exports.

It said the state had a large degree of freedom when it comes to weighing political and policy issues in deciding on arms exports. That was dismissed by the appeals court which said political and economic concerns did not trump the clear risk of violations of the laws of war.

The Netherlands houses one of several regional warehouses of US-owned F-35 parts, from which the parts are distributed to countries that request them, including Israel in at least one shipment since October last year.