The image shows smoke rising from residential buildings following Israeli strikes in Gaza.

Denmark: NGOs sue the Danish state to stop arms exports to Israel

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.

This is the assessment of four prominent organisations that are now taking legal action to stop Danish exports of weapons and military equipment to Israel. With the lawsuit, the organisations want the courts to assess whether the exports violate the rules on arms trade to which Denmark has committed itself.

“For five months we have been talking about a potential genocide in Gaza, but we have not seen politicians take action. Denmark should not be sending weapons to Israel when there is a reasonable suspicion that it is committing war crimes in Gaza. We need to get the court’s word on Denmark’s responsibility,” says Tim Whyte, Secretary General of Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, one of the organisations behind the lawsuit.

Denmark has joined both the UN Arms Trade Treaty and the EU Common Rules for Arms Exports, which obliges Denmark to ensure that exports of weapons and military equipment from Danish companies do not risk contributing to violations of international law.

“We have documented several Israeli bombings in Gaza that do not distinguish between civilian and military targets and wipe out entire families. The attacks are disproportionate and in violation of the rules of war. Denmark must in no way contribute to making these illegal attacks on civilians possible. Therefore, we now want the court to assess whether Denmark fulfils its obligations,” says Vibe Klarup, Secretary General of Amnesty International Denmark.

The risk of military equipment being used in violation of the rules of war alone should make the Danish state stop the export in accordance with international law, according to the organisations.

“The people of Gaza are starving, hundreds of thousands of people cannot find water, food, medicine or shelter, 70 per cent 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,” says Lars Koch, Secretary General of Oxfam Denmark.

In January, the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that it is plausible that Israel is committing potential genocide in Gaza. And recently, a court of appeal in the Netherlands, following a petition from Oxfam Novib, among others, has ordered the Dutch state to stop the export of F35 fighter jet parts to Israel. Amnesty’s documentation has been used as a basis in these cases.

UN experts have also recently warned that any sale and supply of weapons to Israel that risk being used in Gaza would violate international humanitarian law and must be stopped immediately.

In addition to the three Danish organisations, the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq is also involved in the lawsuit against the Danish state. The organisation’s documentation has also been used in similar lawsuits.

“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,” says Maha Abdallah, spokesperson for Al-Haq.

The organisations further state that despite massive documentation of Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, warnings from internationally recognized experts, the ICJ trial and the court case in the Netherlands, arms exports to Israel continue unabated. Now, therefore, we are using every opportunity in a democratic state governed by the rule of law to uphold international law, humanitarian law and our obligations.

As civil society organisations, we stand up for international law and the international rules and laws that protect civilians and their rights. And we invite Danes to support the court case financially and are launching a crowdfunding campaign today.


The organisations involved in the lawsuit are Amnesty International Denmark, Oxfam Denmark, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (Action Aid Denmark) and the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq are suing the Danish National Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop Danish arms exports to Israel.

For several years, Danish authorities have allowed Danish companies to export components for F-35 fighter jets through a US-led defence cooperation without conducting specific assessments of the risk of contributing to war crimes. The US sells the finished fighter jets to Israel.

Israel is the first country – besides the US – to deploy the fighter jets.

Information and Danwatch have uncovered how Israeli F35 fighter jets, including Danish components, have been used in bombardments in Gaza.

During a consultation in the Danish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 16 January 2024, Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen (M) announced that a total of 15 Danish companies are supplying components for the F-35 fighter jets.

The International Court of Justice, ICJ, has found it plausible that Israel is committing genocide and has taken interim measures to prevent this.

Leading international law experts believe that the Danish practice of processing licences for arms exports is in violation of the international rules on arms trade, which Denmark is obliged to comply with.

On 12 February 2024, a court of appeal in the Netherlands decided to order the Dutch government to stop arms exports to Israel within the F-35 programme based on a lawsuit from Oxfam Novib and others. The court found that continued exports are in violation of the EU Common Rules for Arms Exports and the UN Arms Trade Treaty, to which both the Netherlands and Denmark are signatories.

UN experts have recently called for countries to stop their arms exports if there is a risk that the weapons could be used in Gaza.