Mass Arrests in Germany as Pro-Palestine Rioters Shake Berlin

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
October 19, 2023Germany
Mass Arrests in Germany as Pro-Palestine Rioters Shake Berlin
Riot police detain a man at a gathering of pro-Palestinian demonstrators on Sonnenallee in Arab-heavy Neukoelln district in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 18, 2023. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Authorities in Germany say 174 people were arrested and 65 police officers were injured in clashes with pro-Palestinian demonstrators who took to the streets of Berlin Wednesday night.

In a series of posts on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Berlin police said emergency responders were wounded by stones, pyrotechnics, and flammable liquids, among other things. They also said some of the arrestees sustained injuries after police had to use physical force to break the resistance.

Much of the violence happened throughout the Neukölln neighborhood, an area in the German capital with a large Arab population. Police said several groups of up to a hundred pro-Palestinian activists gathered in streets throughout the area, despite a ban on anti-Israel protests, setting off pyrotechnics and blocking traffic by burning obstacles on the roads.

The groups also pelted arriving emergency services with stones and shouted “anti-Israel slogans” as they physically harassed firefighters working to extinguish the fires. In turn, police officers used pepper spray, batons, and water cannons to break the riot and help extinguish garbage cans and tires that were set on fire.

NTD Photo
Fireworks explode near a police vehicle as demonstrators rally to show support for the Palestinian people in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 18, 2023. (Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP via Getty Images)

Additionally, widespread damage to property throughout the city in connection to the pro-Palestinian demonstrations has been reported, authorities said, adding an investigation has been undertaken by the Federal Criminal Police Office.

The protest was organized by the activist group “Youth Against Racism.” Police said in an X post hours before the scheduled event that they canceled it after “assessing all the circumstances and findings,” but demonstrators did not comply with the request.

Prior to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’s attack on Israel and the massacre of Israeli civilians took place on Oct. 7, Germany was restricting pro-Palestinian demonstrations, with Berlin authorities banning several on public safety grounds.

However, the city did approve a pro-Palestinian candlelight vigil with several hundred participants Wednesday evening. The event took place at Pariser Platz and ended at 10 p.m. without incident, according to police.

Anti-Semitic Attacks

The violence in Neukölln erupted just hours after a synagogue in Berlin was hit by two Molotov cocktails, police said, as antisemitic incidents in the capital city have been rising following the escalation in the Middle East. Of Palestinians living in the European Union, Berlin has one the largest communities, with an estimated estimated 30,000 Palestinians.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz strongly condemned the firebomb attack on Oct. 18, saying: “We will never accept when attacks are carried out against Jewish institutions.”

Police said they’re investigating the “serious arson” in which two suspects approached the synagogue on foot at 3:45 a.m. and threw the firebombs, which burst on the sidewalk next to the building. The two suspects had their faces covered and ran away.

A couple of hours later, when police were already investigating the incident, a 30-year-old man approached the synagogue on a scooter, which he threw aside and began running toward the building. When police officers detained him, he resisted and shouted anti-Israeli slogans.

“It outrages me personally what some of them are shouting and doing, and I am convinced that Germany’s citizens are of the same opinion as me,” Mr. Scholz said. “We stand united for the protection of Jews” in Germany, he added.

Following Hamas’s brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent war in Gaza, there have been pro-Palestinian rallies in cities across the world, including the United States, with some of them also descending into violence.

France, meanwhile, has ordered local authorities to ban pro-Palestinian protests altogether, saying they’re likely to “generate disturbances to public order.”

Police in New York, Los Angeles, and other U.S. cities recently increased patrols and authorities put up fencing around the U.S. Capitol amid fears of violence inspired by the Israel–Hamas conflict. However, law enforcement officials have stressed that there are currently no credible threats in the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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