Pro-Palestinian groups file legal action against German politician over Gaza war

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 7:42 AM

By Riham Alkousaa

BERLIN (Reuters) – Pro-Palestinian activists have filed criminal charges against a German politician for suspected incitement of hate and denial of war crimes in Israel’s war in Gaza, they said on Friday.

The charges against Volker Beck, a former member of parliament and the head of the German-Israeli Society, were brought by Palestinian solidarity groups Palestine Speaks and Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East.

“This is the first step in holding public figures who publicly make genocidal statements legally accountable,” the group wrote on its Instagram.

The charges, filed at five prosecutor offices across Germany, cite Beck’s statements on social media, in opinion pieces and media interviews in which he expressed support for Israel’s military operation in Gaza, calling for making humanitarian aid conditional on Hamas freeing Israeli hostages.

Beck rejected the claims as “nonsense”.

“There is no genocide in Gaza and I do not advocate genocide,” he told Reuters, adding that he had filed complaints against the groups for defamation.

“These people have a disturbed relationship with the rule of law if they believe that many complaints lead to more investigations.”

Germany has staunchly defended Israel’s right to defend itself since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, underscoring its duty to stand by the country’s side in atonement for the Holocaust in which six million Jews died.

The government has faced accusations – including from prominent Jewish residents in Germany – of allowing guilt to blinker its response to Israel’s retaliation, which has caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Berlin has shifted towards a more critical stance of its ally as the Palestinian civilian death toll has mounted, stressing the need for Israel to adhere to international law.

The International Court of Justice last month ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, in a case brought by South Africa.

Israel has denied allegations of genocide.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Rachel More, Editing by Rachel More and Nick Macfie)