Germany rejects UN 'genocide' charge against Israel

The German government spokesman says Israel is defending itself after the inhuman attacks by Hamas


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A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment. — AFP
A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment. — AFP

Published: Fri 12 Jan 2024, 8:06 PM

The German government on Friday sharply rejected allegations before the UN's top court that Israel is committing "genocide" in Gaza and warned against "political instrumentalisation" of the charge.

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement that Israel was "defending itself" after the "inhuman" attacks by Hamas of October 7.

"In light of German history and the crimes against humanity of the Shoah, the German government is particularly committed to the (UN) Genocide Convention," signed in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust, Hebestreit said.

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He said the Convention marked a "central instrument" under international law to prevent another Holocaust.

For this reason, he said: "We stand firmly against a political instrumentalisation of the Convention."

Hebestreit acknowledged diverging views in the international community on Israel's military operation in Gaza.

"However the German government decisively and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide brought against Israel before the International Court of Justice," he said.

"The accusation has no basis in fact."

He said Germany would intervene as a third party before the ICJ under an article allowing states to seek clarification on the use of a multilateral convention.


South Africa has launched an emergency case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) arguing that Israel stands in breach of the UN Genocide Convention.

Pretoria wants judges to force Israel to "immediately" stop the Gaza campaign. At least 23,469 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel's offensive, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

Both Israel and its ally the United States have dismissed the case as groundless and vowed a robust defence.

In light of its historical responsibility for the Holocaust, Germany has identified defence of the state of Israel as fundamental to its foreign policy.

But Berlin has grown increasingly critical of the Israeli campaign in Gaza and its impact on civilians, with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock this week stressing the need for "less intensive" combat and greater aid flows.

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