In the heart of Berlin, the Jewish centre at Mitte has appealed for enhanced security measures, following a recent unsettling event. The Jewish community in the city finds itself reeling after a synagogue became the target of two petrol bombs, reflecting a troubling rise in antisemitic incidents across several European nations.
Eyewitnesses recount two individuals hurling flaming bottles filled with an unknown liquid in a scenario characterized as an attempted arson. Anna Segal, the community’s director, confessed that the simmering tensions have become palpably distressing in recent days, leaving the community feeling threatened.
Adding his voice to the public outcry, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the attack with vehemence. While this incident unfolded, violence also erupted in other parts of Berlin as anti-Israel protests turned chaotic overnight. Angry protesters targeted emergency services with bottles, stones, and fireworks, set ablaze barricades across multiple streets, and held a sizable demonstration near the Brandenburg Gate involving around 700 individuals, according to police reports.
These events coincide with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group, urging a “day of rage” in wake of a massive blast at a Gaza Strip hospital, fearing a high death toll. The term “day of rage” is not merely a statement but indicative of psychological terrorism leading to tangible attacks, stated the Central Council of Jews in Germany. The said synagogue also accommodates a community centre, kindergarten, and a high school catering to 130 children.
The severity of these incidents has visibly escalated over the past week, following the eruption of war in Israel. The signs of the burnt-out petrol bombs were barely perceptible by the break of dawn in front of the targeted synagogue and Jewish community centre. Jewish establishments across Germany commonly possess ongoing police protection. Unconfirmed reports suggest officer-presence on site during the attack.
In the aftermath of the attack, police secured a man who neared the building on a scooter and seemed to be shouting anti-Israel slogans. Security barriers were erected around the synagogue and Jewish community centre in central Berlin, along with officer deployment on the street.
In the wake of these incidents, France, along with parts of Germany, banned planned pro-Palestinian rallies last week. Paris law enforcement dispersed an unlawful assembly in downtown Paris utilising tear gas and water cannons. Despite appeal, France’s Council of State upheld the ban, ruling that local prefects could make these decisions only on a case-by-case basis, not simply on orders from Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin or if the protest was pro-Palestinian.
With the alarming increase in antisemitic happenings, Mr Darmanin reassured the public that any harm inflicted on a French Jew will elicit a swift and stern state response. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also addressed recent events, asserting that Hamas terror has sent Israel and the Palestinians spiralling into a cycle of violence.
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, expressed his disgust at the escalating antisemitic incidents in the UK. Concurrently, the Community Security Trust, a UK charity dedicated to safeguarding the Jewish community, implored universities to act decisively against antisemitism and ensure the safety of Jewish students. The organization has recorded 36 antisemitic incidents on campuses between 7th and 16th October.