Germany vows ‘no tolerance’ after anti-Israel demos

Germany on Thursday vowed "unwavering" protection of its synagogues after scattered demonstrations over the escalating conflict in the Middle East saw protesters shout anti-Israeli slogans and burn Israeli flags.

Germany vows 'no tolerance' after anti-Israel demos
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pledged "unwavering security" for Jewish temples in Germany. Photo: Olivier Matthys / POOL / AFP

“There must be no tolerance for attacks against synagogues in our country,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Funke media group, pledging “unwavering security” for Jewish temples in Germany.

Protesters burned Israeli flags outside synagogues in Muenster and Bonn in western Germany earlier this week, with 16 people arrested.

On Wednesday evening, around 180 people shouted anti-Israeli slogans at a march in Gelsenkirchen also in the west.

Police said they prevented the protesters from marching on the city’s synagogue.

In Hanover police said they broke up a protest of around 550 people and prevented two protesters from burning an Israeli flag.

Maas said German Jews should not be made scapegoats for the events in Israel “either in the street or on social media”.

Germany’s Central Council of Jews, which represents about 200,000 Jews living in the country, on Wednesday called for stepped up protection for Jewish institutions in the country as unrest flares between Israel and Palestinians.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Jews call for protection amid Israel-Palestinian clashes

Dozens have been killed in days of violence — mostly on the Palestinian side — with both sides exchanging deadly fire in some of the worst unrest in years.   

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Former Israeli soldier attacked on Berlin street

A former Israeli soldier was attacked in the German capital Berlin, police said Saturday, with one or several unknown assailants spraying him with an irritant and throwing him to the ground.

Former Israeli soldier attacked on Berlin street
Israeli soldiers on operation near the Gaza Strip. Photo: dpa | Ilia Yefimovich

The 29-year-old was wearing a top with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) logo when the attackers started harassing him on Friday about his religion, the police added, calling it “an anti-Semitic attack”.

Officers are seeking the assailants, who fled immediately after the attack, on suspicion of a politically-motivated crime.

Saturday is the second anniversary of an attack by a far-right gunman on a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle, who killed two in a rampage when he failed to break into the house of worship.

It was one of a string of incidents that led authorities to declare the far right and neo-Nazis Germany’s top security threat.

Also this week, a musician claimed he was turned away from a hotel in eastern city Leipzig for wearing a Star-of-David pendant.

While the allegations prompted a fierce response from a Jewish community unsettled by increasing anti-Semitic crimes, several investigations have been mounted into contradictory accounts of the incident.

In 2019, police recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, an increase of 13 percent year-on-year.

“The threat is complex and comes from different directions” from jihadists to the far right, the federal government’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism Felix Klein said recently.