A Dutch appeals court ruled Monday that the government of the Netherlands should halt shipments of components for F-35 fighter jets to the Israeli government because of its continued assault on Gaza.
The decision, which the court ordered to be enforced within seven days, came as Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on a trip to Israel. Rutte has faced criticism at home by some for being soft on Israel in order to increase his own chances of replacing Jens Stoltenberg as secretary-general of NATO.
In a statement on the ruling that overturned a judgment from a lower court, the Dutch appeals court said: “There is a clear risk that the F-35 fighter jets are used by Israel to commit serious violations of humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip.”
A group of nongovernmental organizations had argued that the deliveries — under a military export permit dating back to 2016 — were helping the Israeli government carry out “violations of humanitarian law” as Gaza continues to be pummeled in retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.
The lower court’s ruling in favor of the government had prompted Dutch Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen to post on social media that the ruling meant the government was “free to shape its foreign policy.”
But according to the latest ruling, “The Netherlands is obliged to prohibit the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Although the Dutch don’t assemble or produce F-35s, the country is home to at least one storage facility where components made in the United States are shipped, from Woensdrecht close to the border with Belgium.
On Monday, Rutte called for an “immediate pause in fighting” that would pave the way for a “sustainable political solution: a viable Palestinian state, alongside a secure Israel.”