Dutch Lawyers Seek a Civil Court Order to Halt the Export of F-35 Fighter Jet Parts to Israel

AP Photo/Hatem Ali
Palestinians look at the destruction by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Monday, Dec. 4, 2023.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Human rights lawyers went to court in the Netherlands on Monday to call for a halt to the export of fighter jet parts to Israel that could be used in attacks on Gaza.

The organizations allege that delivery of parts for F-35 jets makes the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes being committed by Israel in its war with Hamas.

The civil case in The Hague opened as the Israeli military renewed calls for mass evacuations from the southern town of Khan Younis, where tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in recent weeks, as it widened its ground offensive and bombarded targets across the Gaza Strip.

The rights lawyers want The Hague District Court to issue an injunction banning the exports of F-35 parts that are stored in a warehouse in the town of Woensdrecht.

“The state must immediately stop the delivery of F-35 parts to Israel,” lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the court.

Citing government documents, Zegveld said that Dutch customs asked the government if it wanted to continue exports after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that triggered the Israel-Hamas war.

“The warning that the fighter jets can contribute to serious breaches of the laws of war does not, for the (Dutch) state, outweigh its economic interests and diplomatic reputation.”

Government lawyer Reimer Veldhuis urged the court’s single judge to reject the injunction, saying that even if it were to uphold the rights lawyers’ legal arguments and ban exports, “the United States would deliver these parts to Israel from another place.”

He added that Israel has the right to self-defense.

“Israel must be able to respond to threats from the region. That must, of course, happen within the framework of international law,” Veldhuis said.

He added that the government “believes that a clear risk of serious breaches (of international law) through the use of F-35s cannot at the moment be established.”

A ruling is expected within two weeks and can be appealed.