“On the morning of October 7, Israel woke up to a nightmare,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz, looking back to the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. Hamas fired thousands of missiles into Israel from the Gaza Strip, over 250 young people were executed at a music festival, and dozens of Israelis were abducted to the Gaza Strip as hostages. “The images show inhumane cruelty,” said the Federal Chancellor. Over a thousand Israeli citizens have fallen victim to the terror so far. Thousands have been injured, some seriously.
Security of Israel is the prime motivation for Germany
“At this moment, there is only one place for Germany: firmly at the side of Israel. This is what we mean when we say that the security of Israel is and will remain the prime motivation for the actions of the state of Germany,” the Federal Chancellor said. “Our own history, the responsibility we bear as a result of the Holocaust, make it our permanent task to stand up for the existence and security of the state of Israel. This responsibility is our guide.”
The right to defence
The Federal Chancellor had also emphasised this solidarity in conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and had coordinated closely with French President Macron, US President Biden, UK Prime Minister Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Meloni.
In his government statement, attended by the Israeli ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor, the Federal Chancellor emphasised again: “Israel has the right, guaranteed by international law, to defend itself and its citizens against this barbarous attack, and to restore security within and for Israel.”
Support from Germany
He had asked Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to remain in close contact and to “inform us about any need for support.” This applied, for example, to treatment of the wounded. “But we will also assess other requests for support by Israel without delay.”
Releasing the hostages
“Their fate deeply affects us all,” said the Federal Chancellor with regard to the hostages abducted to the Gaza Strip. It was to be feared that Hamas would continue to misuse them as human shields. “We are working with all our strength to get all the hostages released – in close coordination with Israel and with the necessary confidentiality.”
Concern about the threat of a conflagration
The second major concern regarded the regional dimension of the conflict. “Without Iranian support over the past few years, Hamas would not have been capable of these unprecedented attacks on Israeli territory,” Scholz said, adding that he was also focusing on the Southern Lebanon region. Like Hamas, Hezbollah also maintain close connections with Iran, and it, too, questions Israel’s right to existence, he continued. “Hezbollah must not intervene in the fighting! This would not only result in a justified and severe response by Israel. Lebanon, which is destabilised already due to the disastrous action of Hezbollah, would be brought to the brink of disaster,” said Scholz. This would bring the threat of a “devastating conflagration – with possible effects reaching as far as North Africa and Yemen.”
Mediation and de-escalation
The Chancellor said that he was in close contact with Egyptian head of state Al-Sisi, who has access to discussion channels to Gaza, and that he would also talk to Turkish President Erdoğan and the Emir of Qatar, a country which plays an important mediating role. “All three can play an important role in mediation and de-escalation in the current situation,” said the Federal Chancellor. “I say to the critics of such contacts: it would be unforgivable not to use all the contacts we have in this situation.”
Development cooperation to be critically assessed
The entire development cooperation with the Palestinian regions will now be critically assessed, he said. “Our yardstick will be whether and how our projects can best serve peace in the region and the safety of Israel.” As before, this would also be discussed with the Israeli government. “Until this assessment has been completed, we will not provide any new funds for development cooperation.”
Solidarity but also shameful images
In the last few days, numerous citizens have literally hoisted the flag for Israel in Berlin and other German cities. “The blue and white flags with the Star of David in front of the Brandenburg Gate have sent a good sign of solidarity, friendship and loyalty to Israel out into the world.”
However, he added that there had also been other, shameful images from Germany: “Images of men and women on our streets celebrating Hamas terrorism, giving full vent to their hatred of Israel and of our Jewish fellow citizens,” as the Federal Chancellor said. “This is abhorrent. It is inhumane. It runs counter to all the values to which we, as a state, are committed,” Olaf Scholz emphasised. “We will not stand by in the face of hate and smear campaigns. We do not tolerate anti-Semitism. Zero tolerance of anti-Semitism – our security agencies must, and will, enforce this with the utmost consistency.”
Prohibition of organisations and activities
The prohibition of organisations and activities is explicitly included among the resources available to German prosecution authorities, he said. The Federal Minister of the Interior would issue “a prohibition of activities for Hamas in Germany. An organisation like Samidoun, whose members celebrate the most brutal acts of terrorism openly in the streets, will be prohibited in Germany,” said the Federal Chancellor.
With a view to the appeal by Federal President Steinmeier and Bundestag President Bas to be alert and to take a clear position at the side of the attacked citizens of Israel, Federal Chancellor Scholz concluded his government statement as follows: “We will do this – today and in future. By committing unequivocally to the security of Israel. And by protecting our Jewish fellow citizens here in Germany. We will do this out of a sense of responsibility for our history. And in deep solidarity and friendship with the Jewish state of Israel.”