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War on Gaza: Namibia slams Germany for offering to defend Israel in ICJ genocide case

Namibian president says Berlin is unable to 'draw lessons from its horrific history' in reference to the genocide perpetrated by Germany in his country last century
People gather in support of members of the South African legal team as they wait for them to arrive from The Hague, Netherlands, where they represented the country in a two-day hearing against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), 14 January 2023 (AFP)
People gather in support of members of the South African legal team as they wait for them to arrive from The Hague's International Court of Justice, 14 January 2023 (AFP)

Namibia on Sunday strongly condemned Germany for supporting Israel in its defence against genocide accusations in last week’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings.

The Namibian presidency issued a statement condemning the German move to act on Israel's behalf as a third party in defence, recalling Germany's role in the first 20th-century genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples in the 1900s.

“The German Government has chosen to defend in the International Court of Justice the genocidal and gruesome acts of the Israeli Government against innocent civilians in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” read the statement, posted on X.

On Friday, the ICJ concluded a two-day hearing of a lawsuit brought by South Africa against Israel’s ferocious war in Gaza, accusing it of breaching the 1948 Geneva Convention.

Since the war started on 7 October, Israel has killed more than 24,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Eight thousand more people are missing, presumed killed under the rubble.

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Namibia has pointed to Germany’s atrocities carried out on its lands against the indigenous Herero and Nama people, killing more than 70,000 of them between 1904 and 1908. The German massacres in Namibia are now described as the 20th Century’s first genocide.

In 2021, Germany officially admitted committing genocide in Namibia, offering around $1.34bn in financial aid, to be paid over 30 years to help the impacted population.

“The German government is yet to fully atone for the genocide it committed on Namibian soil,” says the Namibian statement.

Namibian President Hage Geingob urged his country’s former colonial ruler to retract its “untimely decision to intervene as a third-party in defence and support of the genocidal acts of Israel before the International Court of Justice”.

Vehement supporter of Israel

On Friday, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit rebuffed South Africa’s accusations against Israel at the ICJ hearings, which took place in the Hague. He said in a post on X that Berlin “firmly rejects the accusation of genocide made against Israel. It has no basis whatsoever”.  

He added that his country “will therefore speak as a third party in the main hearing before the International Court of Justice”.

Staunchly supporting Israel, Germany issued a statement stating that Israel "has been defending itself" against Hamas. The statement defines the South African case as a “political instrumentalisation” of the UN Genocide Convention, which it opposes.

South Africa has called upon the ICJ to take provisional measures against Israel, which includes an immediate halt to Israeli military activity in Gaza. Although the interim rulings are expected to be reached in the next few weeks, a final verdict is expected to take years.

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