German Chancellor calls for release of hostages and ceasefire in Gaza conflict


NEW DELHI: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged for a resolution to release hostages in war-torn Gaza along with a sustainable ceasefire, as both sides prepared for further negotiations, according to an AFP report.
“We need a hostage deal with a longer-lasting ceasefire,” said Scholz during a press briefing in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”We empathize with the hostage families who are demanding a comprehensive deal after more than five months to secure the release of those still held captive.”
Scholz’s visit coincided with Israeli officials convening to discuss the mandate of a negotiating team set to engage in fresh talks in Qatar aimed at achieving a new truce between Israel and Hamas. Netanyahu faces significant pressure domestically to free hostages taken during Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7, which triggered the ongoing Gaza conflict now in its sixth month.
The attack resulted in the loss of about 1,160 lives, predominantly civilians, according to Israeli data. Israel’s retaliatory military operations against Hamas have reportedly claimed the lives of at least 31,645 individuals, mostly women and children, as per Gaza’s health ministry. During his visit to Jerusalem, Scholz advocated for a “negotiated two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, emphasizing that “terror cannot be defeated with military means alone”.
Earlier, Netanyahu announced plans for a ground offensive in southern Gaza’s Rafah, raising concerns about potential civilian casualties given the large number of Gazans seeking shelter there. Scholz expressed worries about the impact of the offensive on civilians, questioning how over 1.5 million people could be safeguarded and where they could seek refuge. He said, “the military logic is one consideration, but there is a humanitarian logic as well. How should more than 1.5 million people be protected? Where should they go?”


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