Dutch court orders government to stop exporting F-35 parts to Israel

A Dutch appeals court ruled Monday that the country must halt exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel over concerns that the jets are being used to commit war crimes in the Israel-Hamas war.

The halt is among the strongest push back yet from European nations against the Israeli war effort, which has come under increasing scrutiny as the Palestinian death toll in the conflict passes 28,000 people since October. Israel has denied committing war crimes.

“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 wrote, siding with humanitarian groups which sued the government to stop exports. 

“Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks,” the court continued.

The F-35 parts, which are owned by the U.S. government, are stored at a warehouse in the Netherlands. The court ruling would prevent them from being exported to Israel.

The Dutch government announced it will appeal the decision to its Supreme Court, claiming that the judicial system has no right to make foreign policy decisions.

“We are part of a big consortium of countries that are also working together with Israel. We will talk to partners how to deal with this,” Dutch trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen said, according to Reuters.

Israeli cabinet minister Benny Gantz met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday and lauded the decision to appeal.

“I welcomed the decision, and reiterated that the court decision will harm the global and Israeli imperative of fighting terror,” he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The order comes as the International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Netherlands but unrelated to the national government, considers a South African-led case that Israel is committing a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

The Israeli military is expected to launch a ground invasion on the Gaza city of Rafah, on the southern border with Egypt, in the coming days following evacuation orders and airstrikes.

The Israeli ground campaign in Gaza has leveled much of Gaza, displacing almost the entirety of the region’s 2.3 million people from their homes and forcing as many as 90 percent into hunger, the United Nations said.

Rafah is considered the last “safe zone” for civilians in Gaza, following months of forced evacuations from the rest of the region. World leaders have urged the Israeli government not to push into the city.

Both the Egyptian and Saudi Arabian government warned that they could cast off diplomatic relations with Israel if the ground invasion continued, undoing decades of American-led work in the region.

President Biden warned Sunday that the Israeli government needs a “credible” plan to protect Palestinian civilians in place if it does go forward with a Rafah invasion.

Biden has turned up criticism of Israel in recent days, calling its military response in Gaza “over the top,” in a press conference Friday. He has reportedly been fed up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in private for not heeding advice in the conflict, repeatedly calling him an “asshole” and other names. 

Biden administration officials have also criticized Israel more openly in recent private meetings with Democratic leaders, signaling rising tensions between Biden and Netanyahu, who are long-time friends.

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