Olaf Scholz says Germany must ‘maintain the security and existence of Israel’

Israel’s policy towards Gaza had led to protests and anger among many Germans

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted during a visit to Jerusalem that Israel has Germany’s full support and that Berlin is aware of its historical responsibility to the Jewish state “as a friend in difficult times”.

Describing last week’s Hamas attacks as “bloodthirsty”, the German leader travelled also to Egypt in a bid to help avert further escalation in the region and address the growing humanitarian crisis.

“At this moment Germany has only one place, and that is alongside Israel,” said Mr Scholz. “Germany’s history and the responsibility it had for the Holocaust requires us to maintain the security and existence of Israel.”

Mr Scholz said the “brutal [Hamas] attack on innocent citizens, the execution of citizens, murder of babies, abduction of women, men and children, and humiliation and presentation of Holocaust survivors – it just freezes the blood”.


Nazi Germany’s mass murder of six million European Jews has seen successive postwar governments reiterate the special responsibility Germany has for Israel, defined by ex-chancellor Angela Merkel in 2008 as “Staatsräson”, or reason of state.

But this ill-defined official policy sits uneasily beside the growing outrage over Israeli policy among Germany’s Turkish and Arab communities, making up about six million people or five per cent of the population. German police have had to intervene repeatedly after days of anti-Israel protests over the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Israeli strikes and the mass exodus from northern Gaza.

As well as street protests in many German cities, where Israeli flags have been burned in public, threats have been made to Jewish schools and other buildings. Several municipal buildings around the country have reported Israeli flags, flying in solidarity, stolen or burned.

In Jerusalem Mr Scholz insisted that the German state would do more to protect Jewish institutions and Jewish life there, which he described as “a gift”. In talks with his Israeli counterpart, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, held before the strike on a Gaza hospital in which hundreds were reported to have been killed, Mr Scholz said he had discussed the imperative of getting humanitarian aid to civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Mr Netanyahu likened the Hamas attacks, which killed 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, to “savagery that we only remember from the Nazi crimes of the Holocaust”.

“Hamas are the new Nazis, Hamas is Isis, in some instances worse than Isis,” he said, during a joint press conference with Mr Scholz.

The Israeli attacks, in death toll and ferocity were, he added, the equivalent to “many, many 9/11s”. “If it’s not stopped here,” he said, “then this savagery will reach you very soon, and reach the entire world.”

Before leaving Berlin for Jerusalem, Mr Scholz used a joint press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan to warn against further regional interference in the conflict. “I expressly warn Hizbullah and Iran not to intervene in the conflict,” he said.

The German leader also demanded that international law – in particular outlawing targeting of civilians – be observed, insisting that “ordinary Palestinians are not Hamas” and that the militant organisation had no right to speak for them.

“The Palestinian population in Gaza,” many of which are now fleeing to the southern part of the region, “are also victims of Hamas,” said Mr Scholz.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin