BERLIN — A Dutch appeals court 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.
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,” it said.
The court decision came as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on a trip to Israel. Rutte has faced criticism at home for being soft on Israel to increase his chances of being the next secretary-general of NATO.
Lockheed Martin’s Israel division said it is evaluating what impact the court decision could have on its supply chain, The Times of Israel reported. The company’s F-35 website says each of the jets contains components manufactured by Dutch companies.
The court ordered the government to enforce the decision within seven days and said the state has eight weeks to appeal the decision.
The Dutch 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. “The government believes it is up to the State to its determine foreign policy. The government is lodging an appeal in cassation because it believes the Court of Appeal did not take sufficient account of this.”
The United Kingdom faces a similar suit, brought by two human rights groups, trying to prevent weapons exports to Israel.
The Dutch court decision came after a night in which Israel carried out heavy airstrikes in the Gaza Strip that killed at least 50 people, according to health officials in Gaza.
The Israeli military said on Monday its special forces rescued two hostages held in Gaza.
Israel says its military campaign in Gaza is to defeat the Palestinian Hamas militant group, which carried out an Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and took some 240 people hostage. Israel’s ongoing bombardment has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry there.
Rob Schmitz reported in Berlin; Alex Leff from Washington, D.C.