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German court dismisses request to halt arms exports to Israel

June 12, 2024 at 4:05 pm

The entrance to a department of the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in Karlsruhe, southern Germany, is seen on April 15, 2020 [THOMAS LOHNES/AFP via Getty Images]

A Berlin court yesterday dismissed an urgent request by several Palestinians from Gaza to halt the approval of German arms exports to Israel, citing potential violations of humanitarian law. Supported by organisations including the European Legal Support Centre (ELSC), Law for Palestine and the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, the plaintiffs argued that there was evidence of such violations in Israel’s war against the Palestinians in the enclave.

However, the Berlin administrative court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that any arms export decisions were pending, as Germany had not issued any this year, or that Germany was likely to approve exports violating international humanitarian law. The court also noted that the German government could refuse arms export permits, impose additional conditions or obtain commitments from the recipient country to restrict weapon use.

In response, the lawyers’ groups criticised the ruling as incomprehensible, arguing that the government concealed pending arms export applications, making it impossible to identify them in advance. Ahmed Abed, a lawyer from a Berlin legal collective, stated that the government’s suppression of information about weapons and war crimes “puts the lives of our clients at risk.”

Meanwhile, groups of protesters have been assembling in front of the German Embassy in Tel Aviv, urging Berlin to cease arms exports to Israel. Attention was drawn to Germany ranking second among countries exporting arms to Israel last year.

Germany approved arms exports to Israel worth €326 million ($354m) in 2023, ten times more than in 2022. However, approvals dropped to around €10m in the first quarter of this year, according to Economy Ministry data.

READ: Gaza genocide fuels Israel’s boom in ‘battle-tested’ weapons industry