Hundreds of ministry employees demand that arms be stopped from being supplied to Israel. The government reacts with reservations to a corresponding demand.

Israeli soldiers survey the ruins of Gaza Photo: Leo Correa/ap

Criticism of German arms shipments to Israel continues to grow. A group of German officials have written to Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other senior ministers calling on the federal government to “stop the supply of weapons to the Israeli government with immediate effect.” Israel is committing “crimes in Gaza that are in clear contradiction with international law and, therefore, with the Basic Law to which we, as federal officials and public employees, are bound,” says the statement, published on the portal in LinkedIn line.

According to the organizers, around 600 officials and employees from different ministries and authorities will carry the declaration, reports the Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera. However, they want to remain anonymous for fear of professional disadvantages. A senior official speaks of a “climate of fear” within the authorities and ministries that he “had never experienced in 15 years.” In this way, conversations by email were avoided and exchanges were carried out by telephone, reports a manager who claims to have collected more than 100 signatures from colleagues and through professional networks by himself.

It is “our duty as federal employees,” the statement says, “to remember that the federal government must strictly observe the constitution and international law.” It also calls on the federal government to expand payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and to “actively and resolutely advocate for the recognition of a Palestinian state” within internationally recognized borders. 1967. The signatories are said to include officials from various ministries, including many people with international biographies and overseas experience. Diplomats in particular worry that Germany's reputation in the world and its international relations could suffer lasting damage.

Israel's second largest arms supplier

Germany is Israel's second largest arms supplier. Last year alone, the Federal Republic was said to be responsible for 47 percent of all Israeli weapons imports. Over the past 20 years, nearly a third of all Israeli weapons imports came from Germany, the vast majority from the United States. Other countries do not play a comparable role.

Last year, the total value of approved arms exports to Israel increased tenfold compared to the previous year. In 2023 it amounted to 326.5 million euros, because after the Hamas attack on Israel and the first counterattacks by the Israeli army in October, arms shipments from Germany increased considerably. Last reported Mirror, arms exports have fallen again this year. Thus, until February 15, deliveries worth about 9 million euros were allowed, including war weapons worth 32,000 euros. However, Germany remains Israel's largest arms supplier after the United States.

Criticism increases in the US

In Germany, arms shipments to Israel have never been questioned. But that changed after the Israeli attack on an aid convoy. The Left Party and the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) are now calling in unison to stop German arms exports to Israel, with Wagenknecht even talking about an “arms embargo.” Criticism is also increasing abroad. Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi joined a letter from dozens of Democrats in the US Congress addressed to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for an end to arms sales to Israel.

In Germany, a team of lawyers has filed an urgent application against the federal government to stop the export of war weapons to Israel. They had reason to believe that these weapons would be used in violations of international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip. Lawyers from the European Legal Support Center (ELSC), Law for Palestine and the Palestinian Institute for Public Diplomacy believe that Germany is violating international agreements such as the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Geneva Convention.

The federal government reacted cautiously to the lawsuit. “After a complaint has been filed with the court, the court must first serve it on the defendant,” a government spokeswoman said when asked. Only then can the federal government begin to prosecute.

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