Some staffers were seen lying on the airport tarmac as air raid sirens blared in Tel Aviv
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was rushed to a bomb shelter as he concluded a visit to Israel on Tuesday night, after his delegation was forced to evacuate their plane due to ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza, journalists traveling with him said.
Air raid alarms sounded as Scholz and his team prepared to take off from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, with the chancellor briefly ushered away to a safe area as a precaution.
Part of the incident was captured in footage shared by German reporter Sara Sievert, in which aides and journalists were seen exiting the plane and taking cover on the tarmac.
#Raketenalarm in Tel Aviv. Die Regierungsmaschine wird umgehend evakuiert. @Bundeskanzler wird in einen Schutzraum gebracht. Wir legen uns vor dem Flugzeug auf den Boden. @robinalexander_ @frautoroxel pic.twitter.com/OTWV55KUoA
— Sara Sievert (@sara__si) October 17, 2023
Though early reports said Scholz was also forced to lie on the ground during the scare, journalist Robin Alexander, who was also present with the delegation, later clarified that the leader was brought to a nearby shelter. Alexander noted that he “personally saw explosions in the sky” over the airport as Israel’s air defense systems leapt into action.
Scholz and the other passengers were able to reboard the plane a few minutes after the evacuation, following an additional security check, according to German newspaper Bild. The outlet added that the chancellor “was able to see two explosions with his own eyes,” and said his team had safely landed in Cairo after the “dramatic takeoff.”
— Robin Alexander (@robinalexander_) October 17, 2023
The leader was forced to take shelter several times at the German embassy during his visit to Tel Aviv, amid ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups. The latest flare-up erupted after a deadly Hamas terrorist attack earlier this month, prompting waves of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation. At least 3,000 Palestinians have been killed in the hostilities, as well as some 1,400 in Israel, according to local officials.
Scholz was the first Western leader to travel to Israel following the October 7 Hamas attack, saying the trip would show Germany’s “solidarity” with the Jewish state. The chancellor stressed that Berlin had a special obligation to defend the country, even saying that “Germany’s history and the responsibility it had for the Holocaust requires us to maintain the security and existence of Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took up a similar theme in his own address, declaring that “Hamas are the new Nazis.” He added: “And just as the world united to defeat the Nazis, just as the world united to defeat ISIS, the world has to stand united behind Israel to defeat Hamas.”
October 18, 2023 at 08:53AM