The top UN court starts hearing a case that says Germany helped Israel's war in Gaza.

NEW YORK, April 16 (UPI)— Monday, preliminary hearings began at the top court of the United Nations in a case that wants to stop Germany from giving military and other aid to Israel. The case is based on claims that Berlin is supporting murder and breaking international humanitarian law in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

By giving Israel political, financial, and military support and cutting off funding to UNRWA, the UN agency that helps Palestinians, Nicaragua says that “Germany is facilitating the commission of genocide and, in any case, has failed in its obligation to do everything possible to prevent the commission of genocide.”

Carlos Jose Arguello Gomez, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Netherlands, opened the country’s case at the International Court of Justice. He told the 16-judge panel, “Germany is failing to honor its own obligation to prevent genocide or to ensure respect for international humanitarian law.”

The case that Nicaragua is bringing is mostly about Germany, but it is also indirectly about Israel’s military operation in Gaza after the attacks on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people when militants led by Hamas stormed into southern Israel. The Health Ministry of Gaza says that more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed there. Its death toll doesn’t separate civilians from fighters, but it has said that most of the dead are women and children.

Israel says it is acting in self-defense and strongly rejects that its attack is genocide. In the beginning of this year, Israeli lawyer Tal Becker told the judges that his country is in a “war it did not start and did not want.”

Germany doesn’t agree with Nicaragua’s case.

Sebastian Fischer, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Friday, told reporters, “Germany has not broken the Genocide Convention or international humanitarian law. We will make this clear to the International Court of Justice.”

Nicaragua wants the court to give preliminary orders, also known as provisional measures. One of these orders is for Germany to “immediately suspend its aid to Israel, in particular its military assistance including military equipment insofar as this aid may be used in a way that violates the Genocide Convention” and international law.

It’s expected that the court will take weeks to make its first decision, and Nicaragua’s case will likely go on for years.

As Israel’s six-month operation to destroy Gaza continues, more and more people are calling for its allies to stop sending arms to it. This week, there will be a hearing at the World Court.

The attack has forced most of Gaza’s people to leave their homes. The UN warns that famine is coming and that few Palestinians have been able to leave the area that is under lockdown.

Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law and international peace studies professor at the University of Notre Dame, said that the case “will likely make people even more against any support for Israel.”

The U.N.’s top human rights body asked countries on Friday not to sell or send weapons to Israel. The US and Germany were against the measure.

Also, after seven relief workers from the charity World Central Kitchen were killed in Israeli strikes, hundreds of British lawyers, including three retired Supreme Court judges, have asked their government to stop selling arms to Israel. Three of the lawyers were from the UK. Israel said that the attack on the aid workers was an error due to “misidentification.”

Berlin has been a strong friend of Israel for many years. A few days after Hamas’s attack on October 7, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told lawmakers, “Our history, our responsibility because of the Holocaust, makes it a perpetual task for us to stand up for the security of the state of Israel.”

As the number of civilian deaths in Gaza has grown, Berlin has slowly changed its tone. It is now more critical of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and speaks out against a ground attack in Rafah.

Human rights experts backed by the United Nations said earlier this year that Nicaragua’s government was abusing people’s rights in a way that was “tantamount to crimes against humanity.” This comes after the government had ties with Palestinian groups going back to when they helped the Sandinista revolution in 1979. The claims were strongly denied by President Daniel Ortega’s government.

In January, the ICJ put temporary restrictions on Israel and told it to do everything it could to stop killings, damage, and acts of murder in Gaza. South Africa had filed a case saying that Israel had broken the Genocide Convention. This is what the orders were about.

The court told Israel last week that it needed to do more to help the people in Gaza, like opening more land crossings so that more food, water, fuel, and other goods could get into the war-torn area.

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