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Rights groups file new case against German arms export to Israel

April 12, 2024 at 2:34 pm

Demonstrators gather at the Alexanderplatz Square and march through the city center to show solidarity with Palestinians and protest Israel’s ongoing attacks in Berlin, Germany on January 27, 2024 [Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Human rights lawyers filed a lawsuit against a German government decision to approve the export of 3,000 anti-tank weapons to Israel, the second case of its kind this month filed over Berlin’s support of Israel in its war in Gaza.

Last week, Berlin lawyers said they had filed an urgent appeal to halt exports of war weapons to Israel, citing reasons to believe they were being used in ways that could violate international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip.

The latest case, brought by five Palestinians from Gaza, was supported by lawyers from the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin and Palestinian human rights organisations, ECCHR said in a statement.

ECCHR said the government granted export clearance for 3,000 anti-tank weapons to Israel after the Hamas attack on 7 October, but an export permit application for 10,000 rounds of ammunition to Israel had yet to be approved.

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“Germany cannot remain true to its values if it exports weapons to a war in which serious violations of international humanitarian law are obvious,” ECCHR Secretary-General, Wolfgang Kaleck, said in a statement.

The lawyers called on the Berlin administrative court to suspend the export licenses as a provisional legal protection measure.

The German government and the Economy Ministry, the authority responsible for approving arm exports, were not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.

The German government has said it examines each arms export individually and takes a number of factors into account, including human rights and humanitarian law.

Human rights groups have been going to court to challenge Germany’s Israel policy that is driven by a commitment to atone for its perpetration under Nazi rule of the World War Two Holocaust in which 6 million Jews died.

In February, a group of German lawyers representing families in Gaza filed a criminal complaint against German officials for allegedly aiding and abetting genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza by providing Israel with weapons.

Israel has strongly denied accusations of genocide or violations of humanitarian law in Gaza, saying it is waging war to defeat the group, Hamas, in the small, densely populated enclave.

Over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive, Gaza’s Health Ministry says, after 1,200 Israelis were killed in Hamas’s cross-border attack on 7 October, according to Israeli tallies.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Last year, Germany approved arms exports to Israel worth 326.5 million Euros ($353.70 million), including military equipment and war weapons, a 10-fold increase compared with 2022, according to Economy Ministry data.

READ: Germany denies accusation of aiding a genocide in Gaza at ICJ