Human rights groups sue Denmark for weapons export to Israel

Three Danish NGOs,  Amnesty International Denmark, Action Aid Denmark, Oxfam Denmark, along with the Palestinian human rights NGO Al-Haq, have together filed a lawsuit against Denmark for its export of weapons to Israel.  

The organizations stated in a press release: 

There is a clear risk that weapons and military equipment that Denmark directly and indirectly exports to Israel will be used to commit serious crimes against civilians in Gaza. In doing so, Denmark violates international rules on arms trade and risks becoming complicit in violations of international humanitarian law – including war crimes – and a plausible genocide.   

A total of 15 Danish companies are currently supplying components for the F-35 fighter jets, which Israel is deploying for its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza. The International Court of Justice notably deemed Israel to plausibly constitute genocide, but Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen downplayed the ICJ order as a mere “raised finger” to Israel. The Danish government has recently, as of January, also purchased artillery and rocket launchers worth over $250 million from the Israeli weapons giant Elbit.  

Vibe Klarup, Secretary General of Amnesty International Denmark, said the organizations has documented Israeli bombings in Gaza that do not distinguish between civilian and military targets and have wiped out entire families. “The attacks are disproportionate and in violation of the rules of war,” Klarup is quoted as saying in a press release on the lawsuit. “Denmark must in no way contribute to making these illegal attacks on civilians possible. Therefore, we now want the court to assess whether Denmark fulfills its obligations.”

Maha Abdallah, spokesperson for Al-Haq, added:

“These are very serious and intensive attacks that are taking place in Gaza, where over 30,000 have been killed and 70,000 injured. Israel refuses to allow the population access to basic needs such as food, water, fuel and medical supplies. We see indescribable suffering for civilians and children, amputations without anesthesia, and mass evacuations to horrific locations. Therefore, Al-Haq urges Denmark to stop arming the atrocities that are taking place and to stop a genocide of the Palestinian people.” 

The Danish authorities have allowed Danish companies to export components for F-35 fighter jets through U.S.-led defense cooperation without conducting specific assessments of the risk of contributing to war crimes. The U.S. sells the finished fighter jets to Israel.  

The current lawsuit is aimed specifically against the Danish National Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Tim Whyte, Secretary General of Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke [Action Aid Denmark], one of the organizations behind the lawsuit, said it is necessary to get the court to adjudicate on Denmark’s responsibility.   

“For five months we have been talking about a potential genocide in Gaza, but we have not seen politicians take action,” said Whyte. “Denmark should not be sending weapons to Israel when there is a reasonable suspicion that it is committing war crimes in Gaza.”

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Dutch case, which also relates to the same mechanism of selling parts for the F-35 jets. Last month, a Dutch higher court ordered the government to halt sales of weapon parts that end up in Israel’s hands, overturning a lower court’s dismissal of the case in December. The government said it will appeal the case to the Supreme Court. 

Lars Koch, Secretary General of Oxfam Denmark, says its a matter of Denmark standing behind the values it professes to uphold. 

“The people of Gaza are starving, hundreds of thousands of people cannot find water, food, medicine or shelter, 70 percent of all infrastructure has been destroyed in Gaza. Denmark must not supply weapons to bomb civilians. With the trial, we will test whether Denmark respects international law and the values we profess. We cannot ignore clear violations of humanitarian law, war crimes and the warning of a potential genocide,” Koch explained.

These are major developments concerning the challenging of the material military support to Israel, even under genocide, and the holding of governments responsible for their part in aiding and abetting genocide. In the U.S., a case against the Biden administration for failing to prevent genocide was dismissed by an Oakland court on jurisdictional grounds, and that hearing is being appealed. Even in rejecting the initial case against the Biden administration, the U.S. Federal court judge called upon the White House to reflect on its “unflagging support” for Israel’s assault and confirmed that the genocide charges were indeed “plausible,” as the ICJ had stated.  


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