Human rights organizations to sue Dutch State over arms sales to Israel amid war in Gaza
Several human rights and aid organizations are suing the Dutch state over the Netherlands' stance towards Israel and the war in Gaza, Oxfam Novib reported on Tuesday. The organizations argue that the Netherlands is “partly responsible for violations of the laws of war and collective punishment of the Gazan civilian population,” particularly due to its continued weapons exports to Israel.
Oxfam Novib, Amnesty International, PAX, and The Rights Forum are currently preparing the lawsuit. They demand that the Dutch government act in accordance with its policy frameworks, constitutional obligations, and international agreements, which they allege is not happening.
Samen met @amnestynl, @PAXvoorvrede en @TheRightsForum klagen we de Nederlandse staat aan voor diens houding ten opzichte van de oorlog in Gaza, in het bijzonder door het voortzetten van wapenexporten naar Israël. Lees hier ons persbericht: https://t.co/gbCuk2nIBO pic.twitter.com/QfIRYECfj5— Oxfam Novib (@oxfamnovib) November 14, 2023
According to these organizations, the Netherlands refuses to publicly hold Israel accountable for “serious violations of the laws of war,” despite over 12,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza. They also criticize the Netherlands for continuing to export F-35 fighter jets to Israel, as recently reported by NRC, despite warnings from legal advisors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about potential “serious violations of humanitarian law” in Gaza.
Michiel Servaes, director of Oxfam Novib, stated that Israel's bombing of Gaza makes it “impossible” for his staff to provide aid to civilians. “It is almost unbelievable that these bombs are dropped with Dutch military support. This has to stop. It is an unprecedented step for us to go to court, but if necessary, there is unfortunately no other option,” he said.
Martje van Nes, director of PAX, noted that the Netherlands has a specific assessment framework for arms exports, which strictly prohibits exports when military goods could contribute to human rights or international humanitarian law violations. “It is incomprehensible that the government knowingly deviated from this, despite clear warnings. This makes them partly responsible for the use of the equipment,” she added.
Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International, observed that the Netherlands likes to present itself as a “champion of international law.” However, she warned that the Dutch government is now “losing all credibility.” She added that by exporting weapons to Israel, the Netherlands risks “becoming complicit in violations of international humanitarian law.”
The organizations are assisted by lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Thomas van der Sommen. A crowdfunding campaign for the process was launched on Tuesday and other organizations will be invited to support their case.
Outgoing Minister Hanke Bruins Slot of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the lawsuit, according to her response to ANP.