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Jurist Netherlands human rights groups challenge F-35 fighter jet parts export to Israel

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Nov 11, 2016
Human rights groups Oxfam Novib, PAX, and The Rights Forum are seeking to halt the Dutch government‘s export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel in a hearing that began Monday. During summary proceedings in front of the Hague District Court , they argued that such exports make the Netherlands complicit in potential war crimes, pointing to Israel‘s alleged use of these planes in attacks on Gaza. The Israel-Hamas war has resulted in more than 15,000 civilian casualties.

Since 2019, the Woensdrecht Air Base in the Netherlands stores U.S.-owned F-35 parts, which are then distributed to requesting countries. After Israel‘s recent order for F-35 parts, the Dutch customs office requested the government‘s approval due to export license requirements for military goods. Dutch ministers cited a decision not to interfere in existing agreements based on foreign policy and security considerations.

The rights groups emphasized the importance of preventing civilian harm over fulfilling such political obligations. Their legal challenge centres on obligations under export law, the Dutch constitution, and international law, including the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the EU Common Position on Arms Exports Control. These instruments underscore a prohibition of arms exports when such exports would contribute to human rights violations, in particular genocide, war crimes, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. In particular, the human rights group raised concern about a possible violation of the Genocide Convention.

The director of PAX, Martje van Nes, criticized the government for deviating from the clear framework for arms exports, holding them complicit for Israel‘s use of fighter jets.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development asserted that they had considered the risks associated with exports of the F-35 parts. Israel’s right to self-defence, amid threats from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, had been weighed against potential violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Based on current information, they maintained that no evidence exists that F-35 jets were involved in serious violations of international human rights law.

The rights groups claimed that Dutch export rules prohibit arms exports if there is a clear risk that this contributes to violations of international law. Frank Slijper of PAX also clarified that the claim doesn’t hinge on a breach of international law per se, but rather on the Dutch state’s failure to conduct a proper risk analysis of possible breaches of international law when approving the export license.

Israel has categorically denied any violations of international law since the October 7 attack by Hamas. On the other hand, numerous international NGOs have called for investigations into Israel‘s bombings, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The verdict is set to be delivered on December 15.

The post Netherlands human rights groups challenge F-35 fighter jet parts export to Israel appeared first on JURIST - News.

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