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BERLIN: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday there was an “urgent need” to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where Israeli forces have vowed to destroy Hamas.

Scholz “underscored the urgent need to improve the humanitarian situation for residents in the Gaza Strip,” his office said in a statement after a call between the two leaders.

“Humanitarian ceasefires could contribute to a significant improvement in care for the population,” the statement said.

It added that Netanyahu had “given details on Israel’s efforts to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip”.

EU chief discusses Gaza humanitarian crisis in Egypt

Hamas seized 239 hostages on October 7 when they surged across Gaza’s militarised border into southern Israel to kill around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.

In response, Israel’s air strikes and ground attacks in the Gaza Strip that have killed 12,000 people, according to the Palestinian territory’s Hamas government.

Israel has refused to heed international calls for a ceasefire before all hostages are released.

Scholz, who was one of the first western leaer to visit Israel after the October 7 attacks, assured Netanyahu of “Germany’s complete solidarity with the people of Israel” and assured his country’s “unfailing support”.

The comments came after Scholz met in Berlin on Friday with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has slammed Israel’s assault on Gaza as a violation of human rights and called Israel a “terror state”.

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