A cry of agony can be heard across the Middle East.
You can hear the cry in Israel where families mourn their loved ones – killed, tortured, brutally abducted by Hamas terrorists.
You can hear it in Gaza where parents fear for the lives of their children.
You can hear the cry in neighbouring countries where families worry about the violence spilling over to them.
Here in this room, we hear the cry.
If we want the agony to stop, we must heed all these cries.
Knowing that it will only stop – if it stops for everyone.
This conflict is testing us, the world community.
Each of us looks at this conflict from our own perspective and history.
We need to respect that.
But if we want to find a way out of this crisis, we cannot stop there. We must seek to understand each other’s pain.
Imagine what it would feel like if our own sister were abducted, if our child were hit by a missile.
We must hear each other out.
Then we need to see how we can take small but courageous steps.
To end the suffering. Together.
I speak to you as the foreign minister of a country that bears historic responsibility for the worst imaginable crime, the crime committed by Nazi Germany: the Shoah – the systematic murder of six million Jews, with the aim of eradicating Jewish life from Europe.
“Never again”. To me as a German, that means that we will not rest knowing that the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are now being held hostage by terrorists in Gaza.
For Germany, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.
Like any other state in the world, Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism within the framework of international law.
Addressing the plight of the Palestinians in no way contradicts this clear and unwavering stance.
It is a key part of it.
In Israel, I was shown videos of the most horrendous brutalities against human beings that one can possibly imagine, of young girls being thrown on to trucks as hostages. Imagine if they were your children.
All hostages must be released immediately. I thank all partners who are working on this non-stop.
In Jordan, I met Palestinian refugee families, schoolgirls, who told me that 53 of their family and friends have been killed in Gaza over the past few days. 53. Each of them someone’s daughter, someone’s son.
Imagine if they were your daughter, your son.
All civilian lives matter in equal measure.
Humanity is universal. And so should be our empathy.
The fight is against Hamas and not against civilians. That’s why it is crucial for us that this fight is carried out in line with humanitarian law, with the greatest possible consideration for civilians in Gaza.
That’s why we are increasing our humanitarian aid to Gaza by 50 million euro, 19 million euro of which is going to UNRWA.
That’s why we need humanitarian windows so that those who are suffering can get help in Gaza.
In doing so, we must not be fooled by Hamas’ playbook.
Hamas is playing with human suffering, using women and children in Gaza as human shields, hiding its weapons under supermarkets, apartment blocks, even hospitals – with obvious intent.
Their plan is to fan the flames of hatred and violence.
To spark regional escalation.
To tear us apart as a world community.
We can chose to see the conflict through our own eyes only.
To give in to grief and anger.
Or we can move forward together, small as our steps may be.
So that Hamas can never again perpetrate such acts of terror.
The rules of the UN Charter and international humanitarian law should guide our work for a new tomorrow:
Towards a meaningful peace process allowing both Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace and security, in two independent states.
Knowing that peace will only work – if it works for everyone.