A German government spokesman refused on Wednesday to condemn the killing of Palestinian children by the Israeli military in Gaza amid a mounting Palestinian death toll.
“On a day like today, our stance is very clear. The terrorist attacks on Israel must stop so that more people do not die,” Steffen Seibert responded when asked at a news conference in Berlin whether he would condemn the killing of Palestinian children in Gaza by the Israeli air force.
When pressed as to why it was so hard to simply condemn the murder of Palestinian children, Seibert replied: “I have nothing to add to what I said.”
The latest incursion by Israel on the Gaza Strip was prompted by Palestinian protests against possible forced evictions of families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and a raid by Israeli forces at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Hamas gave Israel a deadline to stop raids at the holy site. When that was ignored, the Palestinian resistance group began attacking Tel Aviv with rocket fire.
Gaza health authorities said at least 53 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military, including 14 children since attacks began.
German Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Christofer Burger caused a stir at the news conference when he said Palestinians had no right to self-defense since international law gives the right to sovereign states and Palestinians are not a state.
“I do not think this is the right occasion for a fundamental discussion of international law. In international law, the right of self-defense applies to a state that is the victim of an armed attack,” he added.
Burger reiterated, however, that Israel does have “the right to defend itself against the ongoing rocket attacks as part of its self-defense.”
Israel has faced international criticism for deliberate air attacks on residential buildings in violation of international law, but Burger claimed there was “no evidence” that it violated the law.
Germany has been a staunch ally and supporter of Israel, and Berlin repeatedly condemned Hamas “in the strongest possible terms” for launching rocket attacks on Israel.
Six Israelis have also been killed. The Israeli army alleged that 1,500 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel.
The Israeli attacks on Gaza are the largest since a seven-week war erupted in 2014.