In a move reflecting the escalating tensions in the Middle East, Germany has stationed elite Special Forces units in Cyprus, according to information from security insiders revealed by the German publication, Bild.
German Special Forces on Standby
The German Army’s elite Special Forces Command, known as KSK, has been positioned in the Eastern Mediterranean island nation. Alongside them, the Navy’s Special Forces unit, colloquially referred to as combat swimmers, and the federal police’s GSG 9, a unit with expertise in hostage rescue, have also been dispatched to the region.
Bild’s sources indicate that Germany is bracing for a range of potential outcomes in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian group, Hamas. This conflict was ignited when Hamas initiated a significant assault on Israel, leading to rocket attacks and the brief occupation of Israeli settlements close to Gaza. This violent confrontation resulted in the tragic loss of over 1,400 Israeli lives, predominantly civilians, as per official reports.
Furthermore, during their incursion, Hamas militants reportedly took in excess of 200 hostages. Bild’s sources suggest that among these hostages, a significant number are German nationals. The stationed Special Forces units might play a pivotal role in potential rescue missions for these captives. Additionally, these units could be tasked with evacuating German citizens from Gaza or assisting their exit from Lebanon, should the conflict expand into that region.
To support these operations, essential military equipment and transport aircraft, notably the Airbus A400M Atlas and Lockheed C-130 Hercules, have been relocated to Cyprus. Bild also mentioned that the German government has kept relevant parliamentary committees abreast of these developments.
In a statement, Berlin communicated its readiness, noting, <q>We are ready for a cold start and prepared for all options.</q> In German military parlance, a “cold start” signifies a heightened state of preparedness, allowing for immediate deployment without the need for further preparations.
Gaza Tensions Escalate
The backdrop to these developments is the continued unrest in and around Gaza. A recent strike on a Gaza hospital resulted in the tragic death of over 500 individuals, as reported by local health officials. This incident drew swift condemnation from numerous Muslim-majority nations, pointing fingers at Israel. However, Israel vehemently refuted any involvement, instead attributing the attack to local Palestinian militant factions. This incident further fueled anti-Israel sentiments, leading to widespread protests across the Middle East and North Africa, with demonstrations spanning from Morocco to Iran.
In response to the situation, US President Joe Biden traveled to Tel Aviv, expressing staunch support for Israel and dismissing claims of Israel’s involvement in the hospital strike.