newsIsrael at War

In Israel, German chancellor questions ‘high costs’ of war against Hamas

"The longer the war lasts, the higher the number of civilian casualties rises, the more desperate the situation of the people in Gaza becomes," said Olaf Scholz.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 17, 2024. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 17, 2024. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz questioned the “high costs” of the Israel Defense Forces campaign against Hamas terrorists in Gaza during his second visit to the Jewish state since the terror group’s Oct. 7 attacks.

“By fighting Hamas terrorists, Israel is pursuing a legitimate goal. Never again an Oct. 7,” stated Scholz, speaking at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the latter’s office in Jerusalem. “The longer the war lasts, the higher the number of civilian casualties rises, the more desperate the situation of the people in Gaza becomes.”

“The more this begs the question: No matter how important the goal, can it justify such terribly high costs, or are there other ways to achieve your goal?” asked the German leader.

“During these five months, the cost of human lives and the number of civilian casualties has grown to be extremely high. Many would argue much too high,” added Scholz, noting that he shared his concerns during a meeting with Netanyahu earlier on Sunday.

Scholz said he pressed his Israeli counterpart to let more aid into Gaza, saying, “We cannot stand by and watch Palestinians risk starvation.”

Scholz also called on Israel to agree to a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria led by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. “Terror cannot be defeated with military means alone. We need a solution to this conflict that ensures sustainable, lasting security,” he said.

According to Palestinian polls, only some 8.5% of Palestinians favor a regime controlled exclusively by Abbas’s Fatah Party. A vast majority—89%—of Palestinians support establishing a government that includes or is led by Hamas.

Slightly more than three in four Palestinians have a positive view of Hamas in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks, in which some 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, were massacred and thousands more were wounded.

Sixty-three percent of Israeli Jews oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, and most believe that terrorism will either stay the same or increase should one be created, according to a Feb. 21 poll.

Netanyahu told Scholz on Sunday, “We very much appreciate your friendship, the support that Germany has given Israel during these trying times. We’ve just had, I think, a very serious conversation, an important conversation among friends.”

“You express your concern for two things. One, protecting civilians. And second, the provision of humanitarian aid. And I explained that these are our concerns as well because we agree with both goals. In fact, the army of Israel has done more to minimize civilian casualties than any other army in modern times,” he continued.

The Jewish state is making “unusual efforts to increase humanitarian aid by land, by sea, by air, and we’ll continue to do more,” Netanyahu noted.

He stressed that “we cannot have this genocidal organization that murdered over 1,000 Israelis in power. We cannot have peace if Hamas is there. Hamas has to be eliminated for any possibility of peace and progress.”

Earlier this month, Nicaragua filed an application at the International Court of Justice against Germany, accusing Berlin of being complicit in genocide by supporting Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists.

“By sending military equipment and now defunding UNRWA which provides essential support to the civilian population, Germany is facilitating the commission of genocide,” Nicaragua claimed.

Nicaragua asked the International Court of Justice, “as a matter of extreme urgency,” to issue provisional measures requiring Berlin to immediately halt all military assistance to Israel and reverse its decision to stop supporting UNRWA.

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