German foreign minister, in Israel, says humanitarian crisis must be contained

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Saturday in Tel Aviv that the international community should focus on limiting the impact of military operations in Gaza on the civilian population.

"All states, regardless of where their allegiance is, that are willing to help ensure that human suffering is contained should cooperate, even if they have to put up with opposition," she said at a press conference on the second day of a Middle East trip after meeting her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen.

"That's what I proposed in the Gulf, in the West Bank and today in Israel and that's what I will also take to Brussels (European Union foreign ministers)," she said.

The trip has taken Baerbock to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. She has also met with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, seat of Palestinian power in the West Bank.

Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries called on Saturday for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, rejecting Israel's justification of its actions against Palestinians as self-defence.

It was unclear how Israel in case of a general ceasefire would be able to defend itself, Baerbock said. Humanitarian ceasefires, on the other hand, were needed to get aid into Gaza and protect lives.

The Middle East has been on edge since Hamas fighters rampaged into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people.

Since then, Israel has escalated a retaliatory assault on Hamas-controlled Gaza.

"I have assured my colleague Eli Cohen of Germany's unshakable solidarity with Israel," Baerbock said.

"The world is looking at a war that Israel did not trigger with different preconceptions of Israel's right to defend itself and the suffering of the Gaza population, which Hamas is using as a shield."

(Reporting by Reuters TV, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Christina Fincher)