We stand in unwavering solidarity with Israel in the fight against Hamas. Israel has the right to defend itself against the Hamas terror – within the parameters laid down by international law for such exceptional situations. This is a hugely difficult challenge in the face of a cruel opponent who is using people as human shields. Hamas has a perfidious strategy whereby the Palestinian civilian population is being exposed to death, hardship and suffering in order to create a breeding ground for further terrorism. At the same time, the terror is aimed at jeopardising the rapprochement reached to date between Israel and its Arab neighbours and to separate the Arab countries from the Global North. This terrorist strategy must not succeed.
Far too many men, women and children have died. The purpose is to fight Hamas, not the Palestinian civilian population. They, too, are suffering tremendously. An unbelievable number of children have already lost their lives. It is therefore important to me that we show the Palestinians that we also see their suffering. That is one of the reasons why I am travelling to the region.
The humanitarian situation for hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Gaza is disastrous. There is a lack of everything. It is crucial that international aid, food, water and medical supplies can be brought to the people in Gaza swiftly and unhindered. At the same time, we are working intensively to enable German nationals to leave Gaza as soon as possible.
To coordinate our aid efforts, I have appointed a Special Envoy for Humanitarian Assistance in the Middle East. She will accompany me on my trip to the region, and she and her staff will be working intensively, in coordination with our partners in the G7, the EU and the region itself, to establish humanitarian access to Gaza and to get supplies to the people there. Germany is prepared to provide comprehensive assistance.
The men, women and children who are being held captive by Hamas and its allies in basements and bunkers must be released immediately. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this happens. I will use my trip to speak with all those who have channels to Hamas about how hostages can be released, and I will work to establish further contacts. Within the existing Federal Government crisis unit at the Federal Foreign Office, we have created a special hostage crisis unit. It is working around the clock to bring about the release of the German hostages, as well as coordinating the intensive efforts that are underway in all of the involved Federal Government Ministries and authorities.