Netherlands providing Israel with F-35 fighter jet parts despite war crime concerns
After the outbreak of the war in Gaza, the Dutch government decided to continue supplying spare parts for Israeli F-35 fighter jets despite officials warning that they may be used to commit “serious violations of humanitarian law,” government sources told NRC.
In mid-October, officials informed outgoing Ministers of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot and Liesje Schreinemacher of an upcoming shipment of spare parts for the Israeli F-35s from the Netherlands. Customs asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether it wanted to block the order of F-35 parts because of the war. Lawyers at the Ministry warned that there were risks of war crimes because Israel used the F-35s in large-scale bombings of the very densely populated Gaza Strip.
The country has bombed over 12,000 targets in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war with Hamas on October 7. Over 10,000 Palestinians, including thousands of children, have been killed in a month.
Despite this warning, the Ministers decided to allow the shipment. According to NRC’s sources, blocking the delivery would have damaged the Netherlands’ relationship with both Israel and the United States - Israel’s most important military ally.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to NRC that the export of goods to “international partners in the F-35 program,” including Israel, has not been restricted. According to NRC’s sources, an Israeli transport plane collected the order of fighter jet spare parts at the F-35 European Regional Warehouse at Woensdrecht Air Base.
The warehouse in Woendsdrecht is one of three distribution centers from which spare parts for the F35 jets are distributed worldwide. A general license applies to the export of F-35 spare parts, which all partner countries use. However, the Dutch government can intervene if exports go against Dutch foreign policy. Between 2004 and 2020, the Netherlands refused a permit for the export of military goods to Israel 29 times.