Scholz Confirms Planned Trip to Israel, Egypt
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday confirmed media reports he would travel to Israel and Egypt this week in the wake of the deadly attack by Hamas militants.
“It is important to me to also express my solidarity with Israel very practically with my visit,” he told reporters, while confirming a “later trip” to Egypt.
German media had earlier reported that Scholz would travel to Israel on Tuesday as the first visit by a foreign head of government since the assault, which has sparked a war between Israel and Hamas.
The fate of German nationals kidnapped by Hamas during the attack 10 days ago is expected to be among the topics of discussion, according to the reports.
Scholz said he wanted to address “practical questions, particularly in terms of the security situation” in his talks “and how we can prevent an escalation of the conflict into further regions.”
Scholz added he wanted to discuss “how humanitarian aid can be organized” while stressing that “Israel has every right to defend itself.”
Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, Ron Prosor, welcomed Scholz’s announced trip.
“It is truly a show of solidarity,” he told broadcaster Welt TV, describing the visit as “incredibly important.”
Prosor said that he hoped Scholz would be successful in mediation efforts during a subsequent stop in Egypt, calling for Cairo to open the border crossing from the Gaza Strip to protect Palestinians before a looming Israeli ground offensive against Hamas.
The Egyptians “have a responsibility,” Prosor said. “If Egypt opens this border crossing, then they [Palestinians] have a place where they can go.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock already traveled to Israel on Friday. At a press conference with her Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem, she condemned Hamas for using residents as a “shield.”
Israel declared war on the Islamist group a day after waves of its fighters broke through the heavily fortified Israel-Gaza border on October 7, shooting, stabbing and burning to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
Israel responded with a relentless bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip that has flattened neighborhoods and killed at least 2,670 people, mainly civilians. More than 1 million people have fled their homes as Israel prepares a major ground operation in Gaza.
A poll published on Monday by the daily Bild showed strong support for Israel in the conflict among Germans.
According to the survey by the INSA independent opinion research institute, more than 70% agreed when asked if Israel “has the right to defend itself militarily” against Hamas.