Hamas ′needs to cease rocket fire,′ says Israeli ambassador | News | DW | 17.05.2021
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Hamas 'needs to cease rocket fire,' says Israeli ambassador

Jeremy Issacharoff, Israel's ambassador to Germany, told DW that Hamas initiated the current deadly exchange between Israel and Gaza, and called on the organization to stop firing rockets.

Jeremy Issacharoff, Israeli Ambassador to Germany

Issacharoff told DW that Israel will not stop sending airstrikes until Hamas stops striking Israel

Israel's ambassador to Germany called on Hamas to stop firing rockets towards Israel, as the heightened conflict between Israel and Gaza enters its second week.

In an interview with DW on Monday, Jeremy Issacharoff said Israel would not stop airstrikes until Hamas stops rocket fire into Israel.

"Hamas needs to cease the rocket fire on Israel," said Issacharoff. "Until it does, Israel will not desist in defending its citizens."

Watch video 08:59

Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, speaks to DW

In response to criticism over strikes on civilian areas in Gaza, Issacharoff said that the places struck by Israeli rockets were strategically chosen to target Hamas militants.

"I'm pretty sure that not everyone realizes the extent to which Hamas, again, embeds itself in the civilian population in order to try and have a human shield," he said. "We didn't seek this exchange." 

'No lack of media coverage'

Additionally, regarding an airstrike on a 12-story tower in Gaza housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, Issacharoff said that the move was not meant to curb coverage of the crisis.

"I don't think there's any lack of coverage and we wouldn't do that in order to stop coverage," he told DW. "We had very clear information about the facilities that would have been serving Hamas in terms of their intelligence capabilities, their cyber capabilities, and also very particular equipment."

The offices had been evacuated after the owner received advanced warning of the strike, and Israeli forces said the building "contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization."

Watch video 07:07

Israeli military: Hamas leader target of deadly Gaza strike

Jewish community 'has nothing to do' with Gaza

Issacharoff also condemned anti-Semitic attacks on synagogues in Germany, including flag-burning and protests held outside of religious meeting points.

"It's one thing to have a peaceful demonstration, but another thing to have these types of acts," he said.  "The Jewish community in Germany has nothing to do with the crisis going on in Gaza, and they are deserving of living like any other community in Germany, in peace and security."

He added that people "from all walks of life" across the country had expressed their support for Jews in Germany, citing meetings with Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht and Culture Minister Monika Grütters, who spoke to "very much negate any form of anti-Semitism against Jews in Germany."

Watch video 00:39

Steffen Seibert: 'Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks'

"We also have very open channels between the foreign minister of Germany, who's speaking to Qatar, speaking to Egypt, and he's also speaking frequently to Gabi Ashkenazi, the foreign minister [of Israel]," he said.

Issacharoff's comments come as international calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza grow louder. So far, at least 197 Palestinians and 10 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. The Israeli military said that Gaza had sent over 3,000 rockets towards Israel. By comparison, a total of 4,481 rockets were fired at Israel during the 51-day Gaza war in 2014.

Merkel expresses support for Israel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, expressing Germany's solidarity with Israel.

She emphasized that Israel had a right to self defense and condemned the continued rocket attacks from Gaza.

Merkel's office said she expressed her hope for a swift end to the violence, given the loss of civilian life on both sides.

She said that her government would "continue to act decisively against protests in Germany at which hatred and antisemitism is spread."

Leading members of her CDU party have condemned antisemitic incidents in Germany, including from Germany's Muslim population and immigrants.

CDU leader and chancellor candidate Armin Laschet said every German citizen, "whether they immigrated, were born here or were naturalized," shares Germany's historic responsibility for Israel.

CDU general secretary Paul Ziemiak said that antisemitism was being fueled by "Muslim extremists." 

And the party's parliamentary faction leader Ralph Brinkhaus said: "One of our values is the protection of Jewish life. Anyone who does not respect that has forfeited their right to be a guest here."