The Gaza war loomed over a regular United Nations review of Germany’s human rights record Thursday, with several Muslim-majority countries denouncing its support for Israel and banning pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
Germany received broad praise for its strong human rights record during the review at the United Nations in Geneva; however, it has faced unusual levels of criticism, especially on its position on the war in Gaza.
Egypt’s representative, Ahmed Moharam, said that Cairo “deeply regrets the unfavorable positions taken by Germany towards the rights of the Palestinian people,” while Jordan criticized the country’s “unbalanced positions.”
Turkey urged Berlin to “stop providing any military materials or equipment to Israel that could be used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The war began after Hamas militants carried out the deadliest attack in Israel’s history on October 7, killing 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and taking 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Israel responded with relentless bombardment and a major ground invasion in Gaza, killing nearly 10,600 people, most of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled enclave.
During Thursday’s Universal Periodic Review – which all 193 UN countries undergo every four years – Germany affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.
Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Policy and head of the German delegation, Luise Amtsberg, said, “Israel’s security and its right to exist are non-negotiable matters for Germany.”
“Protecting Jewish lives and our commitment to never do this again is non-negotiable,” Amtzberg added, expressing her concern about the increase in anti-Semitic acts in the past month.
“Jews no longer feel safe,” she told the audience. “We cannot accept that.”
She stressed that “citizens in Germany also feel justified concern about the civilian population in Gaza and the Palestinian territories.”
Israeli representative Adi Farjon praised “the steps taken by Germany, at the national and multilateral levels, to address the scourge of anti-Semitism.”
But many countries have criticized some of the measures taken in the name of combating anti-Semitism, especially the ban on pro-Palestinian protests.
Qatar expressed its concern about “the sanctions and measures taken against demonstrators in Germany for supporting (people) in Gaza,” while Lebanon urged Berlin to “support and protect the right to freedom of expression and assembly of its citizens.”
Luise Amtsberg stressed that “everyone in Germany has the right to express their opinion freely and demonstrate peacefully,” but added, “There is a limit when it comes to criminal acts: terrorism must not be celebrated.”