German Jewish group files war crimes charges against Israeli leaders

German Jewish group files war crimes charges against Israeli leaders
A Jewish group in Germany, The Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East, filed war crimes charges against Israel's prime minister and defence minister following the bombardment of Gaza in August.
2 min read
13 September, 2022
The Jewish group accused Germany of 'complicity' in Israeli crimes against Palestinians [Getty]

A Jewish group in Germany filed criminal charges against Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defence Minister Benny Gantz for alleged war crimes committed in August this year. 

The Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East filed a letter to Berlin’s Federal Court on Saturday accusing the two Israeli leaders of using disproportionate violence and unlawfully targeting Palestinian civilians during "Operation Breaking Dawn". 

Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip in early August was justified by Lapid as a "pre-emptive counter-terror" operation against an "immediate threat" imposed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. 

At least 44 Palestinians were killed as a result of Israeli bombardment over three days, many of whom were children, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Hundreds more were injured. 

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"When so many civilian casualties are accepted in order to eliminate a few fighters, these are, in effect, premeditated massacres," wrote the Jewish Voice in a statement. 

Wieland Hoban, chairman of the group, told The New Arab that they hoped to "increase public awareness about Israel’s heinous crimes" and "create some unease in Israel" by filing the charges. 

The documents handed to the German Federal Court detailed relevant laws relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity which they believe Israel has breached. If convicted, the penalty is significant jail time. 

The submission also included a day-by-day breakdown of Israeli attacks on Palestinians. On 5 August alone, it documented the death of 10-year-old Layan al-Shaer and five-year-old Alaa Qaddoum. 

The Jewish group said they want Lapid and Gantz to be held accountable for this inordinate suffering, stating that all "war crimes must be treated equally". 

Hoban added that they do not expect charges to be processed quickly: "German reluctance to criticise Israel will be an obstacle."  

Israel imposed a repressive blockade on Gaza in 2007. It has since drained the besieged enclave of critical resources and plunged its Palestinian inhabitants into crippling poverty. 

Successive Israeli attacks on the strip routinely targeted civilian buildings, reducing hundreds of homes to rubble and killing countless families and children. One of the most deadly episodes of fighting erupted in May 2021, when 11-days of Israeli strikes on Gaza killed more than 250 Palestinians. 

Germany has maintained close relations with Israel since the state was created following the Nazi Holocaust. Lapid met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday to discuss "sensitive and relevant intelligence information", according to Israeli media.