A Dutch court bans the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel

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A Dutch court has ordered the government to stop sending spare parts for F-35 fighter jets to Israel, amid growing international pressure over the way the Jewish state is waging its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Netherlands’ appeals court said there was “a clear risk” that serious violations of international human rights law would be committed in the Gaza Strip with the use of US-made Israeli fighters.

The ruling came as the UK separately said it would impose sanctions on four Israeli settlers who it said had “committed human rights abuses against Palestinian communities” in the occupied West Bank.

In the Dutch case, brought by human rights groups, the court said: “Israel does not sufficiently take into account the consequences for the civilian population when it conducts its attacks. . . The court therefore orders the State to cease within seven days the further export of F-35 parts to Israel.”

Liesbeth Zegveld, the lead lawyer for Oxfam Novib, Pax Nederland and The Rights Forum, who prosecuted the case, said after the hearing: “We are extremely grateful that there is justice and that the court was willing to talk about justice.”

However, Geoffrey van Leeuwen, the Dutch trade minister, said at a press conference in Brussels on Monday that the government was “disappointed” by the court’s ruling and would appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Of course we will follow the court’s decision. But we think this. . . it needs to be tested by the highest court of the Netherlands because we think it is up to the government to decide what to do in this case. This is foreign policy and it is up to us to decide.

Van Leeuwen failed to provide a timeline for the appeal and said he was unsure whether Israel could obtain parts elsewhere. The Netherlands is part of a US-led consortium serving the warfighters.

Israel has the right to defend itself, even with F-35s,” he said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to reiterate this message.

The Israeli government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court’s decision.

The ruling comes after the International Court of Justice last month ordered Israel to respect international law on genocide, as well as ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Dutch government has been among Israel’s strongest supporters in the EU since the deadly Hamas attack on October 7, in which militants killed at least 1,200 people and took 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

However, there is growing international concern about the human cost of Israel’s retaliatory attack on Gaza, which has killed more than 28,000 people, according to Palestinian officials. Around 1.7 million of the enclave’s 2.3 million inhabitants have been displaced and large swathes of land have been rendered uninhabitable.

Spain has already banned arms exports to Israel due to the conflict, while US President Joe Biden last week described Israel’s military operation in Gaza as “overblown” – his harshest criticism of the war to date Today.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels on Monday that the United States should curb arms sales as a result. “If you believe too many people are being killed, perhaps you should provide fewer weapons to prevent it [it],” he said.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom announced on Monday that it would impose sanctions on four Israeli settlers who it said had attacked Palestinians in the West Bank, where violence against Palestinians has increased in the two months since the war began.

The sanctions, which follow a similar move by the United States earlier this month, will impose a UK asset freeze and travel and visa ban on the four countries.

“Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them to abandon land that rightfully belongs to them,” British Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said in announcing the move.

“This behavior is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must take stronger action and end settler violence. Too often we see commitments made and commitments given, but not followed through.”

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