Increase in Israelis applying for German passports amid Gaza war

Almost 7,000 Israelis applied for German nationality between January and April this year [Getty/file photo]

The number of Israelis with German ancestry applying for the country’s citizenship has increased significantly this year, German and Israeli media reported.

6,869 individuals have reportedly applied between January and April 2024, German news outlet RND reported, citing figures from the Federal Office of Administration (BVA).

A total of 9,129 applications from Israelis were received in the previous year as a whole, while the number in 2022 was 5,670.

9,371 people across the globe have applied for German citizenship since the start of the year, the Israeli broadcaster Kan said, most of them Israelis.

The citizenship can be acquired through Germany’s law of naturalisation on grounds of restitution after prosecution. Nazi Germany persecuted and killed six million Jews across German-occupied Europe during World War II.

The law was passed in 2021, closing legal loopholes for descendants of those who fled Nazi Germany, who previously could have had their applications for a German passport rejected.

The increase in citizenship applications comes amid staunch support from the German government for Israel throughout its deadly military campaign in Gaza, which has killed at least 36,096 Palestinians as of Tuesday, mostly women and children.

Berlin has continuously emphasised what it calls Israel’s “right to self-defence”, despite the daily atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.

The country’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock has travelled to Israel on multiple occasions since the start of the war.

Germany has also carried out a crackdown on pro-Palestine activism and protests over the months, prompting criticism from Palestinian solidarity groups.

However, Berlin said it might arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should the International Court of Justice issue an arrest warrant against him for war crimes, as requested by the court’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan last week.

The comments provoked anger from the Israeli ambassador to Berlin, who said that Germany had “a responsibility to readjust” Khan’s “moral compass” following the prosecutor’s announcement. 

Additionally, earlier this year, Israeli media reported that Germany would grant passports to a number of Israeli hostages who remain captive in Gaza with the aim of facilitating their release.

In March this year, it was reported that future German citizenship tests will include questions about the creation of Israel in 1948, as well as Berlin’s so-called “obligation” to the country.

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