At the United Nations Court, Germany fights charges of aiding the genocide in Gaza

Germany began defending itself at the International Court of Justice on Tuesday against charges that it is aiding genocide in Gaza by supplying weapons to Israel.

Nicaragua took the case against Germany to the tribunal in The Hague. In hearings that opened Monday, Nicaragua argued that Germany is facilitating the genocide against Palestinians in Gaza by providing Israel with military and financial aid, and called for emergency measures ordering the German government to stop its support for Israel in time of war.

Berlin denied violating the Genocide Convention or international humanitarian law and sent a delegation of international lawyers, including some from Britain and Italy, to the UN tribunal.

Germany is Israel's second-largest arms supplier after the United States and a nation whose leadership calls support for the country a “Staatsräson,” a national reason for existence, as a way to atone for the Holocaust. But the growing death toll in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis in the enclave have led some German officials to question whether such support has gone too far.

In 2023, Germany approved arms exports to Israel worth 326.5 million euros, or about $353.7 million, according to data published by the Economy Ministry. This is approximately 10 times the sum approved the previous year.

“For us, the existence of Israel is a matter of state,” Katrin Göring-Eckardt, vice president of the German parliament, told Deutschlandfunk, a public broadcaster, in an interview broadcast Tuesday. You cited Germany's “special responsibility towards Israel” after the Holocaust, especially after the October 7 Hamas attacks that pushed Israel into war in Gaza.

Göring-Eckardt added that the German government discusses “every single weapons delivery and dialogues with Israel about respecting international humanitarian law in this military conflict.”

On Monday, Carlos Jose Arguello Gomez, Nicaragua's ambassador to the Netherlands, told the court that “it doesn't matter whether an artillery shell is delivered directly from Germany to an Israeli tank bombing a hospital” or goes to replenish Israel's stockpile . The case brought from Nicaragua to The Hague raises new questions about the responsibility of the countries that supplied weapons to Israel for the war on Gaza.

Lawyers argue that Germany is an easier target for a lawsuit than the United States. Germany has granted full jurisdiction to the International Court of Justice. But the United States denies its jurisdiction except in cases where Washington explicitly consents.

The Nicaraguan case is the third this year before the court dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some analysts have suggested that the German government's position has hardened since Nicaragua notified Germany on February 2 of its planned legal action. There is also growing concern that global outrage is so strong that the perception of unconditional support from Germany is damaging important international relations.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently highlighted that Germany is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and said she would send a delegation to Israel to remind people of its duty to respect international humanitarian law.

Israel, which is not a party to the dispute between Nicaragua and Germany, will not appear in court at the hearings, which are expected to end on Tuesday.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed to the reporting.

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