The International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, continued its hearings this Tuesday (08) on the case brought by Nicaragua against Germany, accusing it of complicity in what it describes as the genocide of the Palestinian people by Israeli forces in Gaza Strip.

Germany and Israel are two of the more than 150 signatory countries to the convention, as is Nicaragua. Being a signatory means having the legal responsibility to defend the provisions of the convention – which talks not only about not committing genocide, but also about preventing and punishing this crime. It is also permitted to formally accuse another country in case of violations.

After Nicaragua’s presentation on Monday, Germany made its defense, claiming that the case was based on weak evidence and should be rejected for lack of jurisdiction.

Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, head of Germany’s legal team, said the action was brought hastily and that the facts and the law were ignored by Nicaragua. She highlighted that Germany’s arms supplies to Israel were distorted by the prosecution, and stressed that Germany recognizes the obligations of both parties to conflicts under international humanitarian law.

Nicaragua has asked the ICJ for injunctive measures to halt German arms exports to Israel and reverse Berlin’s decision to stop funding the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. The ICJ does not have the power to demand compliance with its decisions, but these can increase political and public pressure on a government.

The process follows the ICJ’s order in January for Israel to take all possible measures to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, following South Africa’s accusations against Israel. Israel denied the accusations, saying it acted in self-defense.

Regarding arms exports, Christian Tams from Germany’s legal team explained that no ammunition has been exported to Israel since October 2023. He highlighted that arms export licenses are assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on the risks of use in serious violations of international law.

In its support, Nicaragua argued that Germany was violating the UN Genocide Convention, pointing to the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Nicaragua’s ambassador, Carlos Jose Arguello Gomez, called on the ICJ to immediately stop supporting Israel.

The ICJ has not yet issued its preliminary ruling, but Germany’s legal team has argued that the court cannot consider the injunction request as it has not determined that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention. They also pointed out that Nicaragua had not filed its complaint against Israel, essential to the court’s jurisdiction.

The case continues to attract international attention, highlighting the complexity of relations in the region and the legal responsibilities of third states. The final decision could take years to reach as Germany reaffirms its humanitarian commitment and stance toward Israel amid a gradual change in tone over the situation in Gaza.

After the US, it was the largest arms supplier to Israel between 2019 and 2023, accounting for 30% of imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), which researches conflicts. After October 7th, the German government still authorized additional deliveries.

Nicaragua’s diplomatic campaign may have had some effect, as some countries suspended arms sales or restored funding against a backdrop of worsening conditions in Gaza. Germany, however, stayed the course.

The number of Palestinian deaths has now exceeded 32,000, or more than 1.5% of the enclave’s population, according to local health authorities. Humanitarian aid organizations say the number of victims could be much higher.


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