Hundreds of people marching in support of Palestine in the city of Dortmund, Germany

THE International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague held preliminary hearings on Monday on the case filed on 1st March by Nicaragua against Germany, alleging ‘genocide’, in connection with Israel’s war on Gaza

Nicaragua stated that Germany is ‘facilitating the commission of genocide’ by offering political, financial and military support to Israel and by defunding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Nicaragua asserted: ‘Germany is facilitating the commission of genocide and, in any case, has failed in its obligation to do everything possible to prevent the commission of genocide.’
The Central American country has asked the ICJ to order Germany to ‘immediately suspend its aid to Israel, in particular, its military assistance including military equipment in so far as this aid may be used in the violation of the Genocide Convention’ and international law.
German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sebastian Fischer rejected Nicaragua’s claims.
‘We are calm and we will set out our legal position in court,’ Fischer told reporters in Berlin on Friday.
‘We reject Nicaragua’s accusations. Germany has breached neither the genocide convention nor international humanitarian law, and we will set this out in detail before the International Court of Justice.’
The court could likely take weeks to deliver its preliminary decision and the actual case could take years.
In January, Israel defended itself against South Africa’s accusation of ‘genocide’ at the ICJ, which ultimately did not order Israel to stop its military operations in Gaza, but criticised it.
The ICJ case against Germany comes at a time when calls for stopping arms supplies to Israel are increasing.
Canada imposed an arms embargo last month, which is symbolic, however, as Canada does not currently sell any arms to Israel.
In February, the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell publicly called on allies of Israel, especially the United States, to end weapons sales to Israel.
Last Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted 28-5 to implement an arms embargo against Israel.
The UNHCR resolution urged nations to halt ‘the export, sale or transfer of surveillance goods and technologies and less-lethal weapons, including dual-use items, when they assess that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such goods might be used to violate human rights.’
In addition, more than 600 lawyers, academics and retired senior judges in Britain, including the former president of the British Supreme Court, have recommended that the UK government stops selling arms to Israel.
Meanwhile, a group of German civil servants have written to Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other senior ministers calling on the government to ‘cease arm deliveries to the Israeli government with immediate effect.’
The letter states that ‘Israel is committing crimes in Gaza that are in clear contradiction to international law and thus to the Constitution, which we are bound to as federal civil servants and public employees.
According to the organisers of the five-page statement, around 600 civil servants have voiced support for the initiative, which has slowly been gathering traction for months through professional networks and word-of-mouth across a range of ministries.
The statement also requested that the German government pressure Israel for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip; that it renew payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA); and that it ‘actively and resolutely advocates for the recognition of a Palestinian state’ within the internationally recognised 1967 borders.
In 2023, Germany approved arms exports to Israel worth 326.5 million euros (£280 million), a tenfold increase compared to the previous year, providing 30 per cent of the Israeli military’s weapons, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Researchers also found that 99 per cent of Israel’s arms come from the United States and Germany, the latter being the second-biggest supplier.
The civil servants sent the statement via email to ministries last week, with the disclaimer that ‘due to the sensitive content and the excessive state repression that criticism in this area is met with, we want to remain anonymous.’
A senior manager described a ‘climate of fear’ within the civil service that the manager had ‘never experienced anything like in 15 years’.
After internal complaints to ministers about supporting Israel’s war crimes dating from back in October, the manager was warned against talking about it.
One director of development who singlehandedly gathered more than 100 signatures from colleagues and through professional networks even advised against discussions via email, and suggested instead to only use phones so as not to leave a paper trail.
They claimed: ‘It has been hell for all of us.
Signatories include a wide range of civil servants from across different ministries, skewing towards younger women and people with international experience or biographies ‘outside of the German bubble’.
Diplomatic staff in particular are understood to be worried about the damage to Germany’s reputation and international relationships, particularly with Muslim countries.
Internationally, civil servants are increasingly speaking out against Western support of Israel.
In February, 800 civil servants in the United States and the European Union signed a ‘transatlantic statement’ that warned Western support for Israel could amount to ‘grave violations of international law’, and complained of expert advice being ignored.
One of the statement’s initiators is Angelique Eijpe, who resigned from the Dutch foreign ministry over the Gaza policy. She said that ‘the framework of international humanitarian law was completely cast aside in Gaza, which will damage our standing in the world’.
The Netherlands lost a case about delivering F-35 fighter planes that would be operating in Gaza, because of the risk of them being used in war crimes.
Ejipe said: ‘Israel was quite explicit on the genocidal intentions it already had in October.
‘I tried to speak to the foreign minister shortly after, but when they put this intention into practice and our policy line didn’t change, I felt like I had no choice but to resign after 21 years of service as a diplomat.’
Another initiator of the German civil servants’ statement said: ‘There are no rights in Germany at the moment when it comes to Palestine.
‘We wrote this letter because this scale of destruction and violence, the atrocities we are seeing are unprecedented in recent times.
‘This is a huge threat to all of our democratic systems if we justify killing thousands of children,’ the initiator said, adding that senior ministers were creating a ‘collective governmental gaslighting of what we are seeing on the ground.’
Meanwhile, the German trade union Ver.di has made a pay agreement covering some 25,000 security staff to avert more strike action.
A dispute with airports has led to a series of strikes at some of Germany’s busiest hubs, with a large number of flights cancelled on numerous strike days.
The agreement comes after an arbitration process that was launched on Friday at a secret location.
Ver.di had said it would not call for any further work stoppages by security service providers until the end of the arbitration process. Committees of the BDLS employers’ association and the union had until noon yesterday to accept or reject the arbitration recommendation.
BDLS said the recommendation stipulated wage increases of between 13.1 per cent and 15.1 per cent within 15 months.
Ver.di negotiator Wolfgang Pieper said the issues being tackled included salary increases and bonuses for trainers and managers.
Demands for higher wages amid stubborn inflation have led to a series of disruptive and costly stoppages affecting air and rail travel in Europe’s largest economy.
The strikes paralysed 11 airports across Germany and affected air traffic in early and mid-March.
Last month, the airline Lufthansa and Ver.di reached a wage deal for ground staff at German airports, averting potential Easter holiday strikes.
That followed months of strike action at German airports which saw the mass cancellation of flights.

  • Germany has started deploying troops in Lithuania, the first move of its kind since World War II.

The deployment comes after a deal between Germany and Lithuania was agreed in November last year. The base in Lithuania will cost around 30 million euros per month.
As NATO allies continue to reject calls to send ground troops into Ukraine, around 5,000 German soldiers are preparing to relocate to Lithuania by 2027.
Last week, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius visited troops in Bavaria who will be affected by the move.
He said Germany has ‘experience with foreign deployments, including through the Battle Group’.
Pistorius added: ‘Nevertheless, the conditions here are different, as we are talking about several years and, in many cases, deployments accompanied by families.’
This permanent deployment of German troops will be only 60 miles away from the border with Russia.