Sunday, April 14, 2024

German lawyers sue senior politicians, including Chancellor and FM, over complicity in Gaza ‘genocide’

A group of lawyers filed a criminal complaint with the German federal prosecutor against senior German politicians, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, accusing them of “aiding and abetting” the genocide they say is being committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

The case against several members of the country’s Federal Security Council, which directs national security policy and authorises weapons exports, was announced on Friday.

In addition to Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Economics Minister Robert Habeck, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and others stand accused.

The lawyers behind the case represent families of two Palestinians with roots in the Gaza Strip, including that of Palestinian-German migration scholar Nora Ragab.

“We, Palestinians in the diaspora, will not stand by and watch a genocide being committed against our families and our people,” Ragab said in a statement.

“We will use all means at our disposal. … Today we aim to hold the German government accountable for its complicity in the genocide in Gaza.”

The European Legal Support Center, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy and the UK-based Law for Palestine are among the civil society organisations backing the case.

In a jointly written statement, they stated: “The German state is one of the countries that has shown some of the strongest political and material support to Israel in its assault on the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians.”

Alexander Gorski, one of the lawyers supporting the case, acknowledged that “from a legal point of view and given the political landscape in Germany, this case will be a difficult one”.

“But we believe it’s our responsibility as people working in the judicial sector to try to do something,” he told Al Jazeera, adding, “We are seeing a genocide being livestreamed around the world, and despite this, the Israeli government is still being supported by other countries and is still receiving weapons from them.”

After the October 7 attacks by Hamas, during which 1,140 people were killed in southern Israel, the Israeli government retaliated with a military campaign in Gaza that has to date killed more than 29,500 Palestinians, the majority of them women and children.

Israel has announced it wants to crush Hamas, which governs the densely populated strip, but after four months of war, the devastating civilian toll is causing alarm among world leaders.

In late January, the United Nations’ top court, the International Court of Justice, or ICJ, found it was “plausible” that Israel was committing acts in Gaza that violated the international Convention on Genocide.

Since the court’s decision, Germany and all other third-party states should have been trying to stop Israel from committing such acts, the lawyers behind Friday’s case said.

However since October, many German officials have “incited” genocide with their statements, they alleged.

The legal case will also focus on German weapons exports to Israel.

These increased significantly in 2023, compared with the previous year, and most of that increase was approved by the German government after October 7.

Despite the ICJ ruling, Germany has “already agreed in principle” to send more tank ammunition to Israel, they stressed.

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