65 Berlin police injured as pro-Palestinian protesters call to ‘burn everything’

Demonstrators pelt officers with stones, flammable liquids, set up barricades to resist dispersal; 174 arrested; organizers reportedly urged turning Neukoelln district into ‘Gaza’

Fireworks explode near a police vehicle as demonstrators rally to show support for the Palestinians in Berlin, October 18, 2023. (Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)
Fireworks explode near a police vehicle as demonstrators rally to show support for the Palestinians in Berlin, October 18, 2023. (Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

Sixty-five police officers were injured at overnight protests in Berlin against Israel’s response against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the terror group launched a devastating attack earlier this month that killed over 1,400, authorities said Thursday.

As demonstrators defied bans on such gatherings, the officers were “wounded by stones, flammable liquid and acts of resistance,” Berlin police said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

A police spokeswoman said 174 people were arrested, including 65 who will be facing investigations.

The gathering began late Wednesday in Neukoelln, a district with a large Arab community.

The Bild daily said a call had gone out on Telegram calling on “men” to “turn Neukoelln into Gaza. Burn everything.”

As police ordered protesters to disperse, “rubbish bins and obstacles were put on the streets” and “stones and pyrotechnics were thrown” at them, prompting police to respond by firing water cannon, said authorities.

A children’s swing hangs at a house attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, seen in Kibbutz Be’eri, October 14, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

War erupted on October 7 when Hamas launched a shock assault on Israel, firing thousands of rockets at towns and cities while 2,500 gunmen from the Gaza Strip breached the border fence and invaded the country. The terrorists rampaged for hours through southern areas, slaughtering over 1,000 civilian men, women and children, overrunning communities and military posts, in some cases butchering entire families in their homes. Around 200 people of all ages — including the elderly and toddlers — were abducted and taken captive to Gaza where their fate remains largely unknown.

Germany has offered military help to Israel and promised to crack down on support for Hamas at home following the terror group’s assault on Israel.

Since Israel began its intensive bombing raids in Gaza after the terrorists’ onslaught, saying it is targeting anywhere Hamas operates while seeking to minimize harm to civilians, pro-Palestinian protests have been held across major German cities despite widespread bans on rallies supporting Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups.

The number of antisemitic incidents has also jumped, with a synagogue in Berlin hit by Molotov cocktails early Wednesday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged authorities to prevent demonstrations that could degenerate into antismitic incitement.

Gatherings where “antisemitic slogans are shouted, where the deaths of other human beings are glorified” must be outlawed, said Scholz.

There have been pro-Palestinian rallies in cities across the world, some of them also descending into violence, among them demonstrations in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and the West Bank.

Demonstrators rally to show support for the Palestinian people following the Gaza City hospital blast, in Berlin, on October 18, 2023. (Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

Demonstrations further surged after an explosion Tuesday at a Gaza hospital that Hamas blamed on Israel, claiming that hundreds had died. Israel swiftly produced video and other evidence it said conclusively showed the blast was caused by a misfiring rocket aimed at Israel by another Gaza terror group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The group has denied the claims.

The US has said that based on evidence so far, Israel was not responsible and that it was a Palestinian rocket that hit the hospital grounds.

Security has been boosted at Jewish sites in many countries as Israel continues its military campaign in Gaza.

Israel has declared its intention of toppling and eradicating Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. It has for the past week urged all residents of northern Gaza, some one million people, to evacuate to the center and south of the Strip as it prepares to intensify operations in the north. Hundreds of thousands have done so, according to the military, despite Hamas urging them not to leave their homes and in some cases putting up roadblocks.

Roughly 2,800 Palestinians have been reported killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry. Another 1,200 people are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead, health authorities said.

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