A court in the Netherlands has ordered the Dutch government to stop providing Israel with components for the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter.

The Netherlands hosts one of several regional logistics hubs used by the Pentagon to support overseas operators of the advanced stealth aircraft. The Israeli air force operates 39 F-35s, with plans to acquire a total fleet of 75 jets.

A Dutch court on 12 February ordered the government in th Hague to block shipments of F-35 components bound for Israel, citing that country’s conduct during ongoing military operations inside the Gaza Strip.

“It is undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law,” the court said.

The lawsuit was filed by non-governmental organisations, including the Dutch branch of Oxfam. The ruling gives the government seven days to comply with the decision.

Israeli F-35Is 2

Source: Israeli Ministry of Defense

Israel plans to acquire up to 75 F-35 fighters, operated in a local configuration as the F-35I ‘Adir’. The country already operates 39 examples of the stealth jet

The government says it will appeal to the country’s supreme court.

“In the government’s view, it is up to the state to determine its foreign policy,” said foreign trade minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen on 12 February.

The government says it will respect the order from the lower court, while the appeal is filed.

In the meantime, it is scrambling to “secure the Netherlands’ role” within the F-35 programme.

“The government will do everything it can to convince allies and partners that the Netherlands remains a reliable partner in the F-35 project and in European and international defence cooperation,” it said following the court decision.

The Netherlands is also an F-35 operator, with 26 jets in service, according to Cirium data. Lockheed says the country plans to acquire 52 aircraft in total.

While the Netherlands is seeking to resume full delivery of F-35 parts to Israel, its government has also taken a stance against the conduct of Israel’s war in Gaza, which is currently centred on the southern city of Rafah.


Source: Netherlands defence ministry

The Netherlands plans to acquire 52 examples of the F-35A

“The situation in Rafah is very worrying,” said Dutch foreign minister Hanke Bruins Slot on 10 February, days before the court’s F-35 ruling.

“Hard to see how large-scale military operations in such a densely populated area would not lead to many civilian casualties and a bigger humanitarian catastrophe,” she adds. “This is unjustifiable.”

Israel has denied any wrongdoing in the conflict. The government in Tel Aviv has vowed to press forward with its ground incursion into Gaza, which is formally ruled by the militant group Hamas.

“Israel [will] not leave intact the terrorist battalions in Rafah,” the government said in a 12 February statement not related to the Dutch court decision. “The war is expected to continue until total victory over Hamas.”

Palestinian fighters from Hamas killed some 1,400 Israelis in a deadly terrorist attack on 7 October 2023, prompting an even bloodier response from Israel.

The conflict has since spread across the Middle East, with Iranian-backed fighters in Iraq, Syria and Yemen subsequently launching more than 160 attacks against US ships and bases in the Middle East.

The Dutch government describes its decision to appeal the F-35 ruling as “separate” from its stance on Israel’s military conduct.

“The situation is extremely serious,” it says. “It is clear that international humanitarian law applies in full and Israel, too, must abide by it.”

For its part, F-35 manufacturer Lockheed says it is coordinating with the Pentagon, which manages global logistics support to F-35 customers though the USA’s Foreign Military Sales system.

“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 military airframer said on 12 February.

“We stand ready to support the US government and allies as needed,” the company adds.