The Appeals Court in The Hague ordered Netherlands on Monday to end deliveries to Israel of F-35 stealth fighter jet parts within seven days.
The F-35 parts are owned by the United States, which delivers the hardware to its partners in the region who have purchased the stealth fighter jets.
Lockheed Martin Israel said in a statement on Monday that it is evaluating the impact of the ruling. “We’re working closely with the F-35 Joint Program Office to evaluate the impacts the recent Dutch court ruling will have on our supply chain,” the company said. “We stand ready to support the US government and allies as needed.”
Ruling Reverses Previous District Court Decision
The ruling reverses a decision by the District Court in The Hague which previously ruled that supplying the parts was a political decision outside the court’s jurisdiction.
“The considerations that the minister makes are to a large extent of a political and policy nature and judges should leave the minister a large amount of freedom,” the District Court ruled in December 2023.
The Appeals Court, however, overturned the ruling, saying Netherlands “must prohibit the export of military goods if there is a clear risk of serious violations of the humanitarian law of war.”
Court Ignored Hamas’ Use of Human Shields, Other Violations
“Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks,” the court decided, blatantly ignoring the role of Hamas which launched and continues to conduct its unprovoked war against Israel from within its own civilian population.
The court instead pointed to what it claimed is “a disproportionate number of civilian casualties, including thousands of children” killed in Israeli attacks.
The court also ignored the fact that the export licenses granted in 2016 were issued for an unlimited time, and ruled that “does not mean that the State can close its eyes to what happens afterwards.
“The court therefore orders the State to put an end to the further export of F-35 parts to Israel within 7 days,” the judge wrote in the ruling, Barron’s and Reuters reported.
“It is undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Dutch Government to Appeal Ruling
The petition was brought against Israel by a coalition of human rights groups who argued that supplying the parts to Israel contributes to violations of international law in its war with Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who slaughtered more than 1,200 people and abducted 253 others in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Dutch Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen, who argued the case on behalf of the government, told the ANP Dutch news agency the government was “of course disappointed” but would “of course” cooperate “in full” with the ruling while appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
It’s not yet clear whether in fact the Court can force the Dutch government to block exports of needed replacement parts while an appeal is in progress.
Is Netherlands the Sole Supply Source?
There are at least a couple of reasons to believe the ruling will have little or no effect on current Israel military operations.
First of all, the order to cease deliveries within seven days will be appealed, which will take time.
Second, according to Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, at least some of the parts are produced and delivered by Cyclone Manufacturing Ltd., one of the few manufacturers of composite, bonded structural assemblies for the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF fighter aircraft.
Cyclone produces fairings, doors and other structural components for the F-35 center fuselage, but is not located in the Netherlands.
The company employs 750 “highly skilled” workers in six state-of-the-art facilities totaling 500,000 square feet in Canada, USA and Poland.
Israel has already purchased 50 of the aircraft and this past July pledged to buy another 25 of the stealth fighter jets.
‘Allies Should Stand Firmly by Our Side’
“Needless to say, we expect our allies to stand firmly by our side as we fight to bring Hamas to justice in the wake of the October 7 massacre,” Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said Monday in response to a query by JewishPress.com.
“We are fighting for humanity on the front lines of humanity, and only a resounding defeat of the terrorist machine that perpetrated the October 7 massacre will prevent that extremism and terrorism from spiraling further in Europe.
“I’ll note that Israel has already worked with foreign intelligence agencies to thwart Hamas sleeper cells and attempts to perpetrate attacks on Western targets — and that should be up front in everyone’s minds in Europe at the moment,” Levy added.
A spokesperson for Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had no comment on the ruling.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu updated Rutte on Israel’s progress in the fighting in the Gaza Strip and emphasized that Israel would not leave the terrorist battalions in Rafah intact.
The Israeli prime minister told his Netherlands counterpart that the war is expected to continue until total victory over Hamas.
It is unclear whether the ruling came up during the meeting.
Participating for the Israeli side were the Strategic Affairs Minister, the Prime Minister’s Chief-of-Staff, the Director of the National Security Council, the Prime Minister’s Office Director General, the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser and the Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands.
The Dutch National Security Adviser, the Special Envoy for Humanitarian affairs and the Dutch Ambassador to Israel participated in the meeting on behalf of the Netherlands.