Paul Ronzheimer is the deputy editor-in-chief of BILD and a senior journalist reporting for Axel Springer, the parent company of POLITICO.
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has backed French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan for a joint coalition to fight Hamas.
“I like Macron’s idea. I thought it was innovative, original, it makes sense,” Herzog told Axel Springer, POLITICO’s parent company. Referring to Hamas, Herzog added that “this threat must be eradicated by a major effort of the international community such as they’ve done to ISIS.”
During Macron’s visit to Israel last week, the French leader suggested the remit of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State terror group should be widened to fight Hamas. “We should build a regional and international coalition to battle against terrorist groups that threaten us all,” he said.
Macron’s office took a more cautious stance following the president’s comments, however, underlining that France was ready to “work on ideas of action against Hamas, with our partners and Israel.”
But Herzog endorsed Macron’s suggestion, saying that it would allow allies to show active support. “There is a coalition fighting ISIS, now we have to analyze if it can be replicated also for fighting Hamas — it makes a lot of sense. It’s a test for all friends to show that they’re willing also to work on it,” Herzog said in an interview.
Israel has been gradually increasing its troop numbers in the Gaza Strip, as part of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the “second stage of the war” without referring to a ground invasion.
“We are operating in Gaza,” Herzog said. “It’s no secret we are operating in order to destroy their [Hamas’] military infrastructure, we’re also putting a top priority on bringing back the hostages. We’re working in parallel. That’s what I can comment right now, and our soldiers are doing what they need to do in order to protect our people,” Herzog said.
Herzog also warned of antisemitic protests turning violent, in the wake of a huge crowd storming the main airport in the Russian region of Dagestan to protest the arrival of a plane from Israel. This was “shocking” and “extremely worrying,” Herzog said about the incident in which 20 people were injured, and 60 were arrested.
It is “something that all governments should be very much on alert” for, he said, adding that it was “purely antisemitic, and of course instigated.”
On Monday, the mother of Shani Louk, an Israeli-German woman thought to have been kidnapped by Hamas fighters at a music festival in Israel, said her daughter is dead.
“They found her skull, which means these barbaric sadistic animals simply chopped off her head when they were attacking and torturing and killing Israelis, it’s a huge tragedy,” Herzog said.