HomeTop StoriesGerman leaders urge restraint after Iranian attack on Israel

German leaders urge restraint after Iranian attack on Israel

German leaders on Sunday called for de-escalation and urged restraint after the Iranian attack on Israel, amid fears that Tehran’s move could ignite a bigger conflagration in the Middle East.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned against further escalation during a visit to China. “Things cannot continue this way,” Scholz said in Chongqing. “We will do everything we can to prevent further escalation.”

Scholz called the Iranian attack “absolutely unjustifiable,” adding that it was in no way acceptable, understandable or tolerable. “All we can do is warn everyone, especially Iran, not to continue in this way,” Scholz said.

He reiterated German solidarity with Israel, which had every right to defend itself since the terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7 last year.

Scholz’s comments came after Iran carried out an unprecedented airstrike on Israel, which was widely expected following a suspected Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus early this month.

Speaking in Berlin after chairing a crisis meeting, the German foreign minister said Annalena Baerbock called on all actors in the region to act wisely. “The spiral of escalation must be broken. We must end the violence together,” she said.

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Iran has brought the region “to the brink of an abyss,” she said, condemning the attack in the strongest terms and assuring Israel of Germany’s full solidarity. Iran must avoid further attacks from its allies, she added.

Germany has called on its citizens to leave Iran.

Baerbock pointed to the “millions of women, men and children in Israel, in Iran and across the region who could not sleep last night because of fear.”

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog to assure him of German solidarity.

“People in Israel had to take shelter for hours last night from Iranian drones and missiles. We condemn this attack in the strongest terms,” Steinmeier, a former German foreign minister, told Herzog, according to a statement from his office.

He also expressed hope that escalation can be avoided.

The leaders spoke after the first direct attack on Israeli territory from Iran. An Israeli military spokesman said that 99% of the approximately 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles deployed by Israel and its allies had been intercepted, with minimal damage caused.

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Iran’s ‘Operation Truthful Promise’ was carried out in revenge for an airstrike on the embassy grounds in Damascus on April 1, which killed two generals and others. Israel is suspected of carrying out the attack and has not denied responsibility.

It is not yet clear whether Israel will respond to the Iranian attack.

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s War Cabinet, later said he had discussed with Baerbock about forming a “global united front” to counter emboldened Iranian aggression directly and through its allies, regionally and globally.

He previously called for the formation of a regional coalition against the Iranian threat.

Gantz also expressed his appreciation for both Germany’s and Baerbock’s clear stance in support of Israel and Germany’s unequivocal condemnation of the Iranian attack, he said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Baerbock later called for further sanctions against Iran, saying sanctions were already in place regarding the drones used in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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“I am very much in favor of extending them to Iran because we can see how dangerous its actions are at the moment,” she told public broadcaster ARD.

Her comments came after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Brussels would discuss further sanctions against Iran, especially regarding Iran’s drone and missile programs.

The European Union imposed additional sanctions on Tehran in December in an effort to prevent Iran from producing drones used by Moscow in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

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