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Germany defended itself before the International Court of Justice on Tuesday against accusations that its arms shipments to Israel were fueling genocide in Gaza, arguing that most of the equipment it has supplied since October 7 was non-lethal and that it also has been one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

At the U.N. court in The Hague, Germany’s lawyers said the accusations brought by Nicaragua had “no basis in fact or law” and were based on an assessment of the military conduct of Israel, which is not a party to the case.

“Germany firmly rejects Nicaragua’s accusations,” Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, a German Foreign Ministry official and lead lawyer in the case, told the 15-judge court, adding that Nicaragua had “rushed this case through the courts.” on the basis of the flimsiest evidence.” .”

On Monday, Nicaragua had argued that Germany was facilitating the commission of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza by providing Israel with military and financial aid, and called for emergency measures ordering the German government to suspend its support. The court is expected to decide within weeks whether to issue emergency measures.

The proceedings, which concluded Tuesday, were the third time in recent months that the U.N. court became a forum for nations to put pressure on Israel and support the Palestinians.

Earlier this year, the court heard South Africa’s arguments that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza and ordered the Israeli government to take steps to prevent such atrocities. The court has not ruled on whether genocide was actually taking place, an allegation that Israel has strongly denied.

The latest case, brought by a Nicaraguan government that has been widely accused of repression and human rights violations, has focused attention on Germany, Israel’s second largest arm. supplier after the United States. German leaders call support for Israel a “Staatsräson,” a national reason for existence, as a way to atone for the Holocaust.

But the rising death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza have led some German officials to question whether that support has gone too far.

Germany’s lawyers urged the court to dismiss the case. They argued that Germany has tried to balance the interests of both Israel and the Palestinians, and presented figures showing that Berlin was among the largest individual donors to the UN and other agencies providing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Germany has always been a strong defender of the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Ms. von Uslar-Gleichen. “This is, along with Israel’s security, the second principle that has guided Germany’s response to the Middle East conflict in general, and its current escalation in particular.”

In 2023, Germany approved arms exports to Israel worth 326.5 million euros, or about $353.7 million, according to figures. published by the Ministry of Economy. This is approximately ten times the amount approved the previous year.

Germany’s legal team argued Tuesday that most of its exports were non-lethal support, such as protective equipment, communications equipment and defense equipment against chemical hazards.. Christian Tams, a lawyer for Germany, denied Nicaragua’s claims that Germany had increased arms supplies to Israel since the Hamas attack on October 7, saying that “no artillery shells or ammunition had been authorized since then.”

“The picture presented by Nicaragua is, at best, inaccurate and, at worst, a deliberate misrepresentation of the real situation,” he said.

While it was not possible to independently verify the figures presented by Tams, they roughly matched those provided earlier this year by the German government, in response to a question from a lawmaker, when it said that only about 6 percent of its Military exports to Israel were for what it called “weapons of war.”

Critics have said there is little distinction between the types of weapons provided to Israel while it is at war. On Monday, Carlos José Argüello Gómez, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Netherlands, told the court that “it does not matter whether an artillery shell is launched directly from Germany at an Israeli tank bombing a hospital” or if it is used to replenish reserves. From Israel.

Pieter D. Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global arms exports, said the German position is in line with typical arms exports to Israel.

“While they don’t kill directly, they are an essential part of the overall system, the armed forces of a country, that actually make it possible to engage in war,” he said.

Lawyers say Germany is an easier target for a lawsuit than the United States, by far Israel’s main military supporter. Germany has granted full jurisdiction to the International Court of Justice. But the United States denies jurisdiction, except in cases where Washington explicitly gives its consent.

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