Foreign Minister Baerbock prior to her departure for Israel

14.02.2024 - Press release

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock issued the following statement today (14 February) prior to her departure for Israel:

More than four months after Hamas’ barbaric attack, Israel continues to defend itself against terrorism. Those have been four months of suffering and pain for the more than 120 hostages who are still being held in Hamas’ tunnels. Four months of agonising uncertainty for their families.

Hamas’ terror has not only brought immeasurable suffering upon Israel, but also upon the people in Gaza. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is growing more dramatic by the hour. If the Hamas terrorists had even an ounce of sympathy with the Palestinian women, men and children who are suffering as a result of the fighting, they would lay down their arms without delay. Instead, the terrorists are continuing to use the civilian population as a human shield.

Gaza is on the brink of collapse. In Rafah, 1.3 million people are crammed into a small area in the most appalling conditions. Many of them obeyed Israel’s calls to evacuate and have fled from the fighting in northern Gaza – often with little more than their children in their arms and the clothes on their back. Under these circumstances, an offensive by the Israeli forces on Rafah would send the humanitarian situation spiralling completely out of control. For the people in Rafah cannot simply disappear into thin air. They need safe places and secure corridors so that they do not end up being caught in the crossfire once again. They need more humanitarian assistance. And they need a humanitarian pause.

During my talks in Israel I will discuss how the humanitarian suffering could be alleviated and how at the same time the release of the hostages could be brought about. Much more humanitarian assistance urgently needs to get through to Gaza so that the people there do not starve or die of thirst. To achieve this, guarantees of protection for the UN organisations are also needed. At the same time, ways must be found to increase the international pressure on Hamas to such an extent that the terrorists finally lay down their arms.

The fate of the Israelis and the fate of the Palestinians are closely intertwined. The security of one means the security of the other. That can only work with a two-state solution. We must restore the hope of two states living side by side in peace and security – in spite of the horrific experiences of destruction and death at the moment. That is another issue I will raise with my Israeli interlocutors.


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