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France, Germany sued over Israel arms exports amid Gaza war

France and Germany hit by legal action over arms sales to Israel amid Gaza war
3 min read
The rights groups are demanding the nations to stop sending arms to Israel that may be being used against civilians in the Gaza Strip.
Rights groups are demanding an immediate suspension of arms export licenses to the Israeli state due to the risk of use against civilians in the Gaza Strip [GETTY]

Five Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have filed a legal complaint in Berlin against the German government over its delivery of weapons to Israel, an NGO representing them said Friday.

The complaint seeks to "revoke the export licences issued by the German government for arms deliveries to Israel", the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the administrative court in Berlin confirmed it received the complaint late Thursday. The five plaintiffs live in different parts of the Gaza Strip, including Rafah, the official added.

The Palestinians are "challenging the authorisation already granted for the delivery of anti-tank weapons" and seeking to stop deliveries that have not yet been authorised, the spokeswoman said.

The complaint is directed against the economy ministry, which now has two weeks to respond.

Meanwhile, in Paris, 11 NGOs, including Amnesty International France, ASER and Attac, have filed three court cases to make France stop arms deliveries to Israel following Disclose and Marsactu’s revelations about France’s arms sales to Israel.

The groups are demanding an immediate suspension of arms export licenses to the Israeli state due to the risk of use against civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Disclose and Marsactu reported that Paris had sold space parts for machine guns to Israel that could be used in Gaza, with French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu saying that “it’s a license only for re-export” to other customers.

One case focuses on an arms export license for ammunition and fuse-setting devices known as ML3, the second asks for the suspension of around 20 other arms export licenses for weapon sights, ML5 bombardment calculators and infrared or ML15 thermal imaging equipment ML15 and the third demands the suspension of all exports licenses for both weapons and dual-use goods to Israel.

The five Palestinians have all had family members killed in Israeli missile attacks since Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October set off the war, according to the ECCHR.

The plaintiffs say Berlin is failing to fulfil its obligations under international law, including the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

"Germany cannot remain true to its values if it exports weapons to a war in which serious violations of international humanitarian law are evident," said Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the ECCHR.

Germany is the second biggest arms exporter to Israel after the US, accounting for 30 percent of imports between 2019 and 2023, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Berlin is facing a case in the International Court of Justice in which Nicaragua says it is in breach of the UN Genocide Convention, set up after the Holocaust.

On Tuesday, Berlin's representatives insisted that Germany supplied arms only "on the basis of detailed scrutiny...that far exceeds the requirements of international law".

Israel has launched a relentless military offensive on the Gaza Strip since 7 October, with over 33,600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, killed as a result.