German Lawyers Representing 2 Palestinian Families file criminal complaint against German Govt officials, for the crime of aiding and abetting genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza by providing Israel with weapons and issuing related export permissions

Press Release

Berlin – 23 February 2024

Today, a group of German lawyers – representing families of two Gazans – is filing a criminal complaint against German Government officials[1], for the crime of aiding and abetting genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza by providing Israel with weapons and issuing related export permissions. They are supported by civil society organisations ELSC (European Legal Support Center), PIPD (Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy) and Law for Palestine under the Justice and Accountability for Palestine Initiative. The charges are being filed at the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe (‘Generalbundesanwaltschaft’).

In a historic ruling on 26 January 2024 in the case filed by South Africa against Israel for the crime of Genocide, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered provisional measures against the “serious risk” of genocide and stated that the latter is “plausibly taking place”. Following that ruling, Germany, like other Third States, has a clear obligation to prevent genocide and German State officials should use their leverage and employ all lawful means at their disposal to influence Israel to refrain from genocidal acts.

German criminal law requires a ground for initial suspicion to start investigations on a potential crime being committed. The ICJ ruling clearly showed that there is such ground for initial suspicion when it comes to the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

When it comes to “aiding and abetting”, this can be done through logistical, financial or material support, but also by creating favorable conditions for the main crime. In particular, aiding and abetting includes the authorization of arms exports and political support.

The German state is one of the countries that has shown some of the strongest political and material to Israel in its assault on the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians, with many German officials also inciting to genocide in their statements since October 2023.

The plaintiffs have decided to act, attempting to hold Germany accountable for its complicity in the unspeakable horrors their families are living through. Nora Ragab, an activist and plaintiff in the case, who has relatives in Gaza, declared:

“We the living must remember the dead in Gaza, tell their stories and fight for justice. We, Palestinians in the diaspora, will not stand by and watch a genocide being committed against our families and our people. We will use all means at our disposal, from protests on the streets to lawsuits in criminal courts. Today we aim to hold the German government accountable for its complicity in the genocide in Gaza.”

The case notably draws on the fact that in 2023, Germany’s arms exports to Israel amounted to EUR 326.5 million, most of which were approved after October 7, 2023, a tenfold increase of arms exports to Israel compared to 2022. Weapons imported from Germany make up 28 percent of Israel’s military imports

The German government approved more than 300 additional export applications for military equipment worth EUR 306.4 million. It is currently examining Israel’s request for the delivery of tank ammunition, namely 10,000 rounds of 120-millimeter precision ammunition, to which the federal ministries involved have already agreed in principle.

Many countries around the world have taken measures to cut ties with Israel with the genocide unfolding. In Europe, a Dutch Court ordered the government in February 2024 to halt export of F-35 Jets in the light of its international obligations and because there are clear risks that Israel is violating basic principles of international humanitarian law, while the Wallonie region in Belgium has temporarily suspended its exports of gun powder to Israel.

Nadija Samour, the lawyer who filed the case said:

“Our governments in Europe have a legal obligation not to provide Israel any support in perpetrating the current genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. This has to stop and this is what we hope to achieve by going to court. This lawsuit sends a clear message to German officials: you cannot continue to remain accomplices of such crime without consequences. We want accountability.”

While the world continues to witness the total destruction of Gaza, broadcasted live on TV, it is the responsibility of German courts to prevent the German state from being complicit in such horrors and grave breaches of international humanitarian law.


Press Conference and Live Stream Details

We invite you to join us at the pivotal press conference organised by the Justice & Accountability for Palestine Initiative on **Friday, 23 February at 12pm CET**. While the physical event takes place, we encourage global participation through our live stream. This session will unveil the specifics of the criminal complaint filed at the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe, marking a significant moment in our collective quest for justice and accountability.

Watch the live stream [here]