Germany denies complicity in Gaza genocide at UN court

Berlin tells International Court of Justice that case taken by Nicaragua is one-sided and fails to recognise Israel’s right to exist

Germany has rejected claims by Nicaragua that it facilitated genocide by Israel in Gaza. It told the UN’s highest court that the bulk of its military exports to Israel since October 7th have been “defensive” – while reports that it has “defunded” the Palestinian refugee agency Unwra were incorrect.

On the second day of a two-day hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Germany’s legal team dismissed Nicaragua’s case as “one-sided”, based on “misrepresentation”, and, most notably, failing to explicitly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

“Germany has learned from its past, a past that includes responsibility for one of the most horrific crimes in human history, the Shoah [Holocaust],” said Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, lead legal adviser to the German foreign ministry, opening its case before the court’s 15 judges in The Hague.

“That history is why Israel’s security is at the core of Germany’s foreign policy. It is raison d’etat. That is why Germany’s actions have been firmly rooted in international law. And it is also why Germany firmly rejects Nicaragua’s case as having no merit in fact or in law. The record must be set straight.”


On Monday lawyers for Nicaragua asked the ICJ to order emergency measures obliging Germany to halt its military aid to Israel on the grounds that there were legitimate concerns that it might be “facilitating genocide” in Gaza.

Nicaragua also wants the court to order Berlin to reverse its decision to stop funding Unrwa, a decision it alleged was taken on foot of Israeli claims that 12 Unrwa employees had been involved in the October 7th attacks by Hamas which, according to Israeli tallies, left 1,200 dead.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have since been killed in Israel’s ground and aerial bombardment, according to the Hamas-run health authority. Israel, however, denies that its military campaign is genocidal in intent, saying its aim is to prevent a recurrence of the Hamas attack.

Another member of Germany’s legal team, Prof Christian Tams, told the court that since October 7th, 98 per cent of arms exports to Israel were not “war weapons” but general equipment such as helmets, vests and binoculars. “There has been talk of military shells and munitions, but this is deliberate misrepresentation”, he said. “There are no military shells. There are no munitions.”

Prof Tams also said that even immediately after allegations that 12 Unrwa employees had been involved in the October 7th attacks there had not been any blanket “defunding” of the agency, as Nicaragua had alleged. “Germany took a temporary decision but, contrary to what Nicaragua has alleged, has since resumed funding Unrwa on the West Bank, in Jordan and elsewhere.”

A lawyer for Germany, Samuel Wordsworth, said Nicaragua had failed to show ICJ jurisdiction in the case. “While alleged violations of international law by Israel constitute the essential bedrock of Nicaragua’s case, the problem is the manifest absence of an indispensable third party, namely Israel.”

Closing Germany’s case, Prof Anne Peters observed: “The situation in Gaza is unbearable. We all want it to end. But this type of strategic litigation between proxies will not bring that goal any closer.”

The court is expected to rule on emergency measures in weeks.

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court