BERLIN, Oct 12 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a crackdown on organisations that backed Hamas, telling legislators that Iran bore responsibility for allowing the group to grow to the point where it launched the weekend’s attack on Israel.
“While we have no firm proof that Iran operationally supported this cowardly attack, it is clear to us all that without Iranian support Hamas would never have been able to launch this unprecedented attack,” he said on Thursday.
“Sadly, we can foresee the suffering of the civilian population in the Gaza strip likely growing further – but that too is the fault of Hamas and its attack on Israel,” he added.
At home, he said Germany would ban all fundraising and other support activities for Hamas and ban Samidoun, an international activist group that says it supports Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, but which German authorities says promotes hate speech and calls for Israel’s destruction.
He added that it was important to try and avoid a further regional escalation of violence, warning Hezbollah, another Iranian-backed militant group, in Israel’s neighbour Lebanon not to risk an attack on Israel.
“I am in close contact with Egypt’s President Sisi, who has channels to Gaza. I will speak with Turkey’s President Erdogan today and receive the Emir of Qatar,” he added. “All three can play an important role in de-escalating the situation.”
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Miranda Murray, Editing by Rachel More)