Berlin (dpa) – Ten days after a terrorist attack by the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz left for Israel on Tuesday on a solidarity visit, becoming the first head of government to visit Israel since the attack. He hopes to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Itzhak Herzog and relatives of German hostages kidnapped by Hamas and taken to the Gaza Strip. He will then visit Egypt, Israel’s only neighbor that borders the Gaza Strip.
The talks will focus on how to free some 200 hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including several Germans. Scholz also wants to do his part to prevent conflict in the region. The more detailed aid plan includes military aid to the Israeli armed forces and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, where Israel has asked hundreds of thousands of people to flee ahead of a possible ground offensive.
Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog expressed his appreciation for Olaf Scholz’s planned visit. “He is the first European head of government to visit us, which is a huge show of solidarity with Israel,” Herzog told the dpa news agency on Tuesday. Scholz is a good friend of Israel. Basically, the support from the entire German leadership, including Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has been “incredible.”
Herzog said this was the first time since the Holocaust that so many Jews had been killed. “The images we saw reminded us of those terrible days of the past.” Scholz’s visit sent a “signal of hope.”