At U.N. Court, Germany Fights Allegations of Aiding Genocide

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

Nicaragua brought the case against Germany to the court in The Hague. In hearings that opened on Monday, Nicaragua argued that Germany is facilitating the commission of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza by providing Israel with military and financial aid, and it asked for emergency measures ordering the German government to halt its wartime support to Israel.

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

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 of atoning for the Holocaust. But the mounting death toll in Gaza and humanitarian crisis in the enclave have led some German officials to ask whether that backing has gone too far.

In 2023, Germany approved arms exports to Israel valued at 326.5 million euros, or about $353.7 million, according to figures published by the economics ministry. That is roughly 10 times the sum approved the previous year.

“Israel’s existence is a matter of state for us,” Katrin Göring-Eckardt, a vice president of Germany’s Parliament, told Deutschlandfunk, a public broadcaster, in an interview aired Tuesday. She cited Germany’s “special responsibility toward Israel” after the Holocaust, especially after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that prompted Israel to go to war in Gaza.

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