Nicaragua drags Germany to ICJ for ‘facilitating Israel’s genocide’ in Gaza

Managua accuses Berlin of violating the Genocide Convention by funding Israel’s war on Gaza.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and about 7,000 remain missing since Israel launched its brutal assault on October 7 [AFP]

Nicaragua has sued Germany at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for funding Israel and cutting aid to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), the court announced on Friday.

The Latin American country accused Berlin of violating international law in its continued funding for Tel Aviv and asked the ICJ to order emergency measures that would force Germany to cease military aid to Israel, and restart funding to the UNRWA.

“By sending military equipment and now defunding UNRWA which provides essential support to the civilian population, Germany is facilitating the commission of genocide,” Nicaragua said in its filing, citing the 1948 Genocide Convention and the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the laws of war in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Germany is a key ally of Tel Aviv, and is one of its biggest arms providers alongside the United States, according to UN experts.

A hearing date is not yet known, however, the ICJ, also known as the World Court, usually starts proceedings on requests for emergency measures within weeks.

At least nine UNRWA donors, including the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the United Kingdom, suspended funding after allegations that about 12 of the tens of thousands of Palestinians employed by the agency were suspected of participating in Hamas’s October 7 attacks in Israel.

But Israel has yet to provide evidence to UN investigators more than a month after it made its claims.

Deaths due to hunger

Berlin was the second biggest donor to UNRWA after the US in 2022 when it pledged $202m to the agency.

The UNRWA has warned that the suspension of its funding could lead to the agency being unable to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has seen deaths due to hunger and a lack of health facilities. On Thursday, at least 117 people were killed after Israel fired at hundreds of Palestinians waiting to collect food aid in Gaza City. The incident has triggered global condemnation and calls for an independent investigation.

Emergency measures, Nicaragua said in its Friday filing, were necessary because of Berlin’s “participation in the ongoing plausible genocide and serious breaches of international humanitarian law” in the Gaza Strip.

Under the genocide agreement, countries agree not to commit genocide, meaning complicity in the act is a violation. The pact also enables member states to actively prevent and punish possible genocide.

The Managua case comes after an earlier and much-followed filing by South Africa last December which accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

In February, the ICJ ruled that Pretoria’s claims that Israel violated the genocide convention were not implausible and ordered emergency measures, including a call for Israel to halt any potential acts of genocide in Gaza.

Israel, which defended itself in the South Africa hearings, has denied allegations of genocide, citing “self-defence”, though experts have questioned Israel’s “right to defence” as an occupying power. The case is continuing. Last week, Human Rights Watch said hampering the delivery of aid by Israel was a violation of the January 26 ICJ order.

“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said on February 26.

Israel has also been criticised for targeting civilians, with more than 80 percent of those killed being women and children. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and about 7,000 remain missing since Israel launched its brutal assault on October 7 in the wake of a deadly attack carried out by the Palestinian Hamas group.

In separate proceedings at the ICJ, more than 50 countries in February presented arguments against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies