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German arms exports to Israel have surged in the past month, as Berlin steps up support for the Middle East country’s war against Hamas.
Germany has exported more than €300mn of sensitive military equipment and arms to Israel so far this year, a 10-fold increase since 2022, said a German government official. They added that 185 of the 218 licences granted this year were approved after October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack from Gaza, killing 1,400 people according to Israeli officials.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz has emerged as Europe’s most hawkish advocate of Israel’s right to respond with overwhelming armed force against the Palestinian terror group, even as global concern has grown over high casualties and a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The federal government has created a working group of the foreign office, ministry of economic affairs and office for export control tasked with expediting Israeli arms requests, government officials in Berlin told the Financial Times.
The licences cover a range of military materiel, not all of which is offensive, such as components for air defence systems. However, lethal munitions, worth about €20mn, have also been sent.
The figures do not cover equipment for which licenses are not required, such as basic personal kit, protective personal armour or medical equipment. Germany has also prioritised such shipments to Israel.
The economic affairs ministry, led by Germany’s Green vice-chancellor Robert Habeck, oversees the exports. The ministry declined to comment.
“Israel has the right, enshrined in international law, to defend itself and its citizens against this barbaric attack,” Scholz told German lawmakers the week after Hamas’s attack in Israel. “There is only one place for Germany at this time, and that is by Israel’s side,” he added.
Scholz said he had told Israel to ask him for “whatever support is needed”.
Israel’s assault on Gaza aims to root out Hamas, which has ruled the coastal enclave since winning elections in 2007.
Israel’s military has struck more than 14,000 targets in the Palestinian territory, said the Israeli military. Its campaign has killed more than 10,560 Palestinians, with 2,550 people reported missing, said Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry on Wednesday.
Israel said high civilian casualties have occurred because Hamas uses the local population as human shields, locating its command centres and military assets within or next to sites such as hospitals, apartment blocks, mosques and schools. The Palestinian group denied this.
Group of Seven foreign ministers, meeting in Japan, called on Wednesday for “humanitarian pauses” in the bombardment to get vital aid into Gaza and to let foreign nationals — and potentially hostages — out.
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said at the Tokyo meeting that attacks from Gaza continued “to oblige us to stand up for the protection of Israel, especially because the rocket fire from the terrorist organisation Hamas continues”.
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