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Germany vows ‘no tolerance’ after Israel-flag burning outside synagogues

FM Heiko Maas promises ‘unwavering’ protection for Jewish houses of worship, following anti-Israel protests amid fighting in Gaza

Demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin, May 12, 2021 (video screenshot)
Demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin, May 12, 2021 (video screenshot)

BERLIN — Germany on Thursday vowed “unwavering” protection of its synagogues after scattered demonstrations over the escalating military conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups saw protesters shout anti-Israeli slogans and burn Israeli flags.

“There must be no tolerance for attacks against synagogues in our country,” German 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.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks with the media upon his arrival for a meeting with EU foreign affairs ministers at the European Council building, in Brussels, on May 10, 2021. (Olivier Matthys/Pool/AFP)

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 Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military has been carrying out strikes in response to major rocket fire at the country.

A total of seven people have been killed in Israel, including four people who died on Wednesday, among them a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a five-year-old boy hit by shrapnel.

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said the death toll rose to 72 Palestinians, including 16 children. The IDF said dozens of those killed were members of terrorist groups, some of whom were actively preparing to launch attacks on Israel when they were hit.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven of its members, while Hamas acknowledged that a top commander and several other members were killed. Israel and a Palestinian human rights group, Defense for Children, have said that several of the civilians were killed by Hamas rockets falling short inside Gaza, not by Israeli attacks.

The Israeli military also claims the number of terrorists killed so far is much higher than Hamas has acknowledged.

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