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A court orders Netherlands to halt fighter jet part exports to Israel over Gaza war

An Israeli air force F-35 warplane flies over during a graduation ceremony for new pilots in Hatzerim air force base near the city of Beersheba, Israel, June 29, 2023.
Tsafrir Abayov
/
AP
An Israeli air force F-35 warplane flies over during a graduation ceremony for new pilots in Hatzerim air force base near the city of Beersheba, Israel, June 29, 2023.

BERLIN — A Dutch appeals court has ruled that the government of the Netherlands should halt shipments of F-35 fighter jet components to Israel because of the Israeli military's continued assault on the Gaza Strip.

"The court finds that there is a clear risk that Israel's F-35 fighter jets might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law," the court said on Monday.

The Dutch affiliate of the international humanitarian group Oxfam, along with two other nongovernmental human rights groups that sued the government in December, welcomed the decision.

"This positive ruling by the judge is very good news, especially for civilians in Gaza," Oxfam said in a statement. "It is an important step to force the Dutch government to adhere to international law."

Israel denies it is violating international law, saying it is fighting in Gaza to crush Hamas and secure the release of hostages after the Palestinian militant group's deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

But the court said, "Israel's attacks on Gaza have resulted in a disproportionate number of civilian casualties, including thousands of children."

It ordered the Dutch government to enforce the decision within seven days and said the state has eight weeks to appeal the decision.

The government says it will implement the decision but that it's lodging an appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court.

"In the government's view, the distribution of American F-35 parts is not unlawful," the government said in a statement. It said the court failed to take into account the state's role in determining foreign policy.

The Israel division of Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35, said it is evaluating what impact the court decision could have on its supply chain, The Times of Israel reported.

The United Kingdom faces a similar suit, brought by two human rights groups, trying to prevent weapons exports to Israel.

The court announced its decision as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on a trip to Israel to discuss the conflict with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders.

The news followed a night in which Israel carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip that killed at least 50 people, according to health officials in the territory.

The Israeli military said on Monday its special forces rescued two hostages held there.

Israel's bombardment has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry there. It launched the military campaign after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack killed 1,200 people and took some 240 people hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Rob Schmitz reported from Berlin; Alex Leff from Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.
Alex Leff is a digital editor on NPR's International Desk, helping oversee coverage from journalists around the world for its growing Internet audience. He was previously a senior editor at GlobalPost and PRI, where he wrote stories and edited the work of international correspondents.

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