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A Berlin court on Tuesday rejected a request by several Palestinian residents of Gaza to halt the German government from issuing permits for exporting weapons to

Israel, citing concerns that such arms might be used in breach of humanitarian law.

The plaintiffs, supported by organizations such as the European Legal Support Center (ELSC), Law for Palestine, and the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, argued that there were reasons to believe these violations were occurring in Gaza.

Following the October 7 massacre by Hamas, which resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 people and the taking of 251 hostages, Israel declared war on the group. Israel initiated a broad campaign in Gaza aimed at dismantling Hamas's military and governance structures and securing the hostages. Israel has denied accusations of violating international law, asserting that its operations are targeted at Hamas while aiming to minimize civilian casualties.

The Berlin administrative court noted that the plaintiffs did not provide evidence that decisions on arms exports to Israel were currently pending, given that Germany has not issued any permits this year. Additionally, there was no indication that Germany would approve exports that violate international humanitarian law.

Germany, a significant arms supplier to Israel, accounted for 30% of Israel's arms purchases in 2023, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The United States provided 69% of Israel’s arms purchases that year. Germany supplies components for air defense systems, communications equipment, and Dolphin-class submarines.

The court emphasized that the German government retains the authority to refuse arms export permits, impose additional conditions, or obtain commitments from recipient countries regarding the use of the weapons.

Lawyers representing the Palestinian groups criticized the ruling, claiming that the secrecy surrounding pending arms export applications makes it impossible to challenge them effectively. Ahmed Abed, a lawyer from a Berlin legal collective, argued that the government's suppression of information about weapons and potential war crimes endangers their clients' lives.

In 2022, Germany approved arms exports to Israel worth 326 million euros, a significant increase from previous years. However, the volume of approvals dropped to around 10 million euros in the first quarter of this year, according to data from the Economy Ministry. Photo by De-okin, Wikimedia commons.