Nicaragua files case at World Court accusing Germany of aiding Israel’s ‘genocide’

Latin American country claims Germany complicit in alleged crimes in Gaza, building on South Africa’s case; filing comes as Nicaragua under fire for human rights abuses

South Africa's delegation, left, and Israel's delegation, right, stand during a session at the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
South Africa's delegation, left, and Israel's delegation, right, stand during a session at the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Nicaragua has filed a case at the International Court of Justice against Germany for giving financial and military aid to Israel and for defunding the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, the UN’s top court said on Friday, a day after a panel of UN-backed human rights experts accused the Latin American country of systematic human rights abuses “tantamount to crimes against humanity.”

Nicaragua asked the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to issue emergency measures requiring Berlin to stop its military aid to Israel and reverse its decision to stop funding UNRWA.

The German foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The court usually sets a date for a hearing on any requested emergency measures within weeks of a case being filed.

According to Nicaragua’s claim, Germany is violating the 1948 Genocide Convention and the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the laws of war in the Palestinian territories.

“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 legal filings.

Accusations from Israel that 12 UNRWA staff members took part in Hamas’s October 7 massacres prompted several countries, including Germany, Britain, Japan and the United States, to suspend their funding.

The assault saw thousands of Hamas-led terrorists storm southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 253 hostages.

Illustrative: The destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kissufim on October 7, 2023, in southern Israel, November 20, 2023 (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Nicaragua’s filing adds that emergency measures were needed because of Berlin’s “participation in the ongoing plausible genocide and serious breaches of international humanitarian law” in the Gaza Strip.

This claim builds on the case South Africa brought against Israel for allegedly committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Last month the ICJ said South Africa’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.

The court did not order Israel to halt its military offensive against Hamas.

Israel has dismissed South Africa’s case as a “grossly distorted story,” saying it has the right to defend itself and denying any acts of genocide.

ICJ rulings are legally binding, but the court has no enforcement mechanism.

The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the UN, delivers its order on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by South Africa against Israel over its actions in the Gaza Strip, January 26, 2024. (International Court of Justice)

Israel this week submitted a report to the court showing that it was in compliance with its orders.

Under the genocide treaty, countries not only agree not to commit genocide but also to prevent and punish any possible genocide. It also makes complicity in genocide and attempting a genocide a violation of the treaty.

Germany is one of the largest arms exporters to Israel together with the United States, according to UN experts.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 30,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas terrorists Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 gunmen inside Israel on October 7.

Illustrative: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega speaks during a ceremony in Managua, Nicaragua, March 21, 2019, accompanied by first lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File)

Nicaragua’s petition to the World Court came as a panel of UN-appointed human rights experts issued a damning report Thursday detailing the extent of human rights abuses perpetrated by its government. The government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife and deputy, Rosario Murillo, is accused of violent crackdowns on its critics, especially since mass demonstrations against it in 2018.

According to the report, the state has targeted civilians, including university students, Indigenous and Black Nicaraguans, and members of the Catholic Church. Children and family members are now targeted simply for being related to people who raise their voices against the government. Ortega’s government has repeatedly said that the mass demonstrations against it in 2018 constituted a failed coup attempt orchestrated by the United States, and typically defends any repression as a crackdown on anti-government plots.

The government responded to the report Thursday by saying it was “manipulated” by a group of imperialist powers paid to “distort the reality of our country.”

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