Dutch court shows that the law must always keep politics in check

The Dutch judges ruled that the government must stop supplying Israel with the F-35 fighter jet parts over concerns that they were being used to violate International Humanitarian Law in Gaza. Picture: Supplied

The Dutch judges ruled that the government must stop supplying Israel with the F-35 fighter jet parts over concerns that they were being used to violate International Humanitarian Law in Gaza. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 18, 2024


WHERE would we be without national judicial systems and international humanitarian law in particular? Dead, very dead, I suspect.

Take for instance the hugely unpopular support by Western leaders for Israel’s genocidal military onslaught across the Gaza Strip and the greater land of Palestine.

Every week, tens of thousands of concerned citizens with hearts across various European and Western capitals, take to the streets to protest against the arrogance of their leaders’ endorsement and material support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

And, whereas Western leaders are the self-proclaimed champions and architects of democracy and democratization, the will of their citizens fall on deaf ears when it comes to the plight of hordes of civilians in the form of innocent Palestinian men, women and children.

As the UN and various other humanitarian agencies have previously pointed out, “anything that moves in Palestine is a legitimate target of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF)”.

The electorate across the West will have to wait for the next round of elections to oust their arrogant leaders who have evidently lost touch with reality on the ground.

I have been inspired to pen this piece on the very essence of judicial systems and international humanitarian law following the damning ruling against the Dutch government by a court in the Netherlands.

The Dutch judges ruled that the government must stop supplying Israel with the F-35 fighter jet parts over concerns that they were being used to violate International Humanitarian Law in Gaza.

The ruling is effective within a space of seven days, but the embarrassed Dutch government says it is appealing the judgment.

The judges argued in line with the recent findings of the International Criminal Court (ICJ), that Israel was plausibly carrying out acts of genocide against the Palestinians, it is plausible, therefore, that the Dutch-assembled and exported F-35 fighter jets parts sold to Israel could be enabling the Netanyahu regime to annihilate a Palestinian population faced with certain extinction.

The law-suit ruling has been hailed across many parts of Europe and the international community. It was brought against the Dutch government by rights groups that included the Dutch arm of Oxfam.

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

In a morally-bankrupt attempt to defend the abominable exports, the Dutch Trade Minister, Geoffrey van Leeuwen, said the fighter jet parts were “crucial for Israel’s security”.

See, the implication of the Dutch minister’s statement means that there is no cause to be moved by the killing of more than 28 000 Palestinians since October 7, coupled with the wanton destruction of infrastructure that include UN schools, refugee camps, schools, hospitals, blockade of aid from entering Gaza, detentions-without-trial of scores of Palestinian parents and children, orphaned minors, bombed ambulances, every day artillery and shelling of displaced Palestinians, the list is too long.

The Netherlands is itself a once-upon-a-time-in-history a colonial power better-known particularly in South Africa, through the notorious Dutch East Indian Company of Jan van Riebeeck that enslaved indigenous black people after their ship landed in the Cape in 1652.

It is perhaps this diabolical history of the Dutch that makes their current government insensitive to the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by apartheid Israel. After all, the Dutch were masters of apartheid in South Africa.

The Israelis have only perfected that art of racial discrimination, characterised by the permanently mean streak of Israeli settlers who are a law unto themselves, and derive daily pleasure out of turning Palestine into a living hell for its rightful citizens.

The Netherlands is home to one of a number of regional warehouses that stores the US-owned F-35 parts that are sold from then to keen buyers. Since October 7, at least one shipment of the lethal parts was exported to Israel to help the Jewish State to bomb every square inch of the occupied Palestine.

Despite the mounting evidence, Tel Aviv flatly denies that it is breaking international humanitarian law, arguing that every care is given to the safety of Palestinians. The claim would have been laughable were it not so preposterous.

In an increasingly unipolar world order, it is heartening to notice that there are millions of people across the Western capitals, who remain determined and committed to fighting for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Rights groups, including Oxfam, also deserve a mention for successfully taking on the Dutch government.

However, methinks that the South African government will go down in history books as having stood on the side of the weak and vulnerable against the global bullies by taking Israel to the ICJ, also successfully.

In fact, as Israel has evidently continued to defy the ICJ court order to ensure that there were no acts of genocide being carried out by the IDF and that humanitarian aid needs to be let in the besieged Gaza, the opposite is the reality.

To this end, the South African government has recently returned to the Hague-based ICJ in the wake of Israel’s chilling plans to launch a military ground operation against the multiple-times displaced nearly 1,5 million Palestinians in Rafah next to the border with Egypt.

All sensible observers have their heads in their hands as they picture the looming, worst mass slaughter of innocent civilians in modern history.

But the Dutch government and the owners of the F-35 fighter jet parts for who they store and export – the US – are barely moved. So too are the allies of the US – the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Canada, among others.

With their colonial past, it is perhaps no wonder that they remain unmoved by the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by a state that they arm to the teeth – Israel.

Since October 7, a raft of articles have been written on the wrongs and rights of the Israeli military havoc in Gaza. The Jewish State has long crossed the redline for self-defence according to international law, and what continues to transpire is nothing short of sheer, unadulterated criminality.

As members of the global community that still believes in the UN Charter that espouses multilateralism and global cooperation, we should be grateful to the practice of national judicial systems in functioning societies.

Additionally, the utilization of international institutions such as the ICJ by countries such as South Africa must encourage all and sundry to make use of such available facilities, and expose the double-standards of the powerful nations against the weak, as the case of Palestine so eloquently teaches us.

As we wait with bated breath for the outcome of South Africa’s latest round in the ICJ, we need to commend the existence of international humanitarian law and related institutions.

Irrespective of the eventual outcome of SA’s cases against Israel and its Western backers, South Africa has done the developing world hugely proud by taking a lead in the David v/s Goliath battle.

While the powerful can shoot the weak with ease in Palestine and elsewhere, at least before the national judicial systems and international law they can be held to account. It is a powerful balancing act for which we must all be grateful.