Three months after the start of the Gaza war, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock urgently called for an end to the violence. "The terror must end. The humanitarian plight of the people must come to an end. The region must come out of the eternal cycle of violence," demanded the Green politician at the beginning of a week-long trip to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Israel has the right and duty to defend itself against terror, but must protect civilians much better in its military actions, she demanded. Much more humanitarian aid is needed in the Gaza Strip to combat hunger, epidemics and cold.
The Gaza war was triggered by the unprecedented terrorist attack by the Islamist Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups on October 7th. According to Israeli figures, around 1,200 people were killed in the attack on border towns in Israel and around 240 people were kidnapped into the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with massive air strikes and a ground offensive. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 22,800 people have been killed and more than 58,000 injured in the Gaza Strip since the war began.
Conversation with President Herzog in Jerusalem
At the start of her fourth trip to Israel after October 7th, Baerbock met with President Izchak Herzog in Jerusalem. Afterwards, a first meeting with her new Israeli colleague Israel Katz was planned. In addition to efforts to release the hostages kidnapped by the Islamist Hamas and the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians, the talks are also likely to focus on a two-state solution after the end of the Gaza war. It is now the “task to leave no stone unturned on the way to a two-state solution,” explained Baerbock.
Baerbock: Hezbollah and Houthis must stop setting fires
“The script of terror must not continue to unfold,” warned the Foreign Minister. The foundation must finally be laid for sustainable peace and security. To achieve this, Gaza must no longer pose a threat to Israel's existence, Hamas must lay down its arms and the Iran-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen must "stop their dangerous bombing." Israelis and Palestinians would only be able to live side by side in peace if the security of one meant the security of the other, said Baerbock. This will only succeed “if everyone sees the suffering of others.”
Katz recently said when his predecessor Eli Cohen took office that he saw his country "in the middle of a third world war" against Iran and radical Islam. "This enemy recalls the darkest periods in human history, and we are determined to achieve our goal of overthrowing Hamas," Katz said, according to the Israeli news site Ynet and the Times of Israel newspaper. As Israel's archenemy, Iran has set up an "axis of resistance against Israel", which includes Hamas, forces in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.
Several more Germans among the Hamas hostages
During a ceasefire at the end of November, Hamas, with the mediation of Qatar, Egypt and the USA, released 105 hostages, including 14 German citizens, and Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners in return. The Israeli army currently believes there are still around 135 hostages in the Gaza Strip. There are said to be several Germans among the remaining hostages.
Baerbock wants to visit a Palestinian village in the West Bank this Monday and meet Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki in Ramallah. Afterwards, the onward journey to Egypt is planned, followed by a visit to Lebanon on Wednesday. The Federal Foreign Minister then wants to fly to the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.