Namibia condemns former colonial master for defending Israel
Germany cannot claim to oppose genocide while backing Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Namibian President Hage Geingob stated on Saturday. Geingob added that Berlin has “yet to fully atone” for committing genocide in his country.
German government spokesman Stefan Hebestreit said on Friday that Berlin will intervene on Israel’s side at the ICJ to argue that the Jewish state has not violated the UN Genocide Convention in its war against Hamas militants. South Africa is leading the case against Israel, arguing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is attempting to “bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnic group.”
“Germany cannot morally express commitment to the United Nations Convention against genocide, including atonement for the genocide in Namibia, whilst supporting the equivalent of a holocaust and genocide in Gaza,” Geingob’s office said in a statement on Sunday.
German colonial forces massacred more than 70,000 Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908 in what was then known as German South West Africa. Launched in response to a series of uprisings against German rule, the killings are recognized by the UN as the first genocide of the 20th century.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier apologized for the colonial-era crime in 2021 and pledged €1.1 billion in development aid to Namibia. This offer fell short of the reparations demanded by Herero and Nama tribal leaders.
“The German government is yet to fully atone for the genocide it committed on Namibian soil,” Geingob’s statement continued. “Therefore, in light of Germany’s inability to draw lessons from its horrific history, President Hage Geingob expresses deep concern with the shocking decision” to back Israel’s defense at the ICJ.
Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people. Israeli forces responded by launching airstrikes on Gaza, followed by a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave a month later. The operation is ongoing and has claimed the lives of nearly 24,000 Palestinians, more than two-thirds of whom have been women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
In addition to its ongoing military campaign, Israel has maintained a near-total siege on Gaza, which has placed 40% of the enclave’s population at risk of famine, the UN warned late last month.
Speaking at a hearing in the Hague on Thursday, South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi pointed out that at least 15 UN special rapporteurs and 21 UN working groups have described the situation in Gaza as tantamount to genocide, and that “Israel's political leaders, military commanders and persons holding official positions have systematically and in explicit terms declared their genocidal intent.”
Despite his own officials openly discussing plans to rid Gaza of its Palestinian population, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel is acting in self-defense. In a speech on Saturday, he condemned the “hypocritical attack in the Hague” and vowed that “we will not stop until we achieve victory.”