Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters, counter-protesters face off in Berlin

Numbers at al-Quds Day rally reportedly lower than expected; pro-Palestinian demonstrators call Israel a ‘child murderer,’ label Zionism as ‘anti-Semitic’

People attend a pro-Palestinian march marking al-Quds Day in Berlin on June 1, 2019. (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
People attend a pro-Palestinian march marking al-Quds Day in Berlin on June 1, 2019. (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Several hundred pro-Palestinian activists demonstrated against Israel in Berlin Saturday, as part of al-Quds Day events, the Arabic name for Jerusalem, while hundreds of others held counter-protests in support of the Jewish state.

The annual al-Quds Day events established by Iran see anti-Israel protests held around the world in solidarity with the Palestinian cause on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Around 2,000 people had been expected to take part in Berlin, but actual turnout was apparently at around 1,000 lower.

Meanwhile, around 800 people were protesting in support of Israel in two separate rallies, including several politicians, according to local press.

Some protesters at the rally chanted “Free Palestine” and “Child murderer Israel,” according to one journalist at the scene. Other chants included “Palestine will be reborn!” or “Free Gaza!” Some waved Iranian flags.

One car sported a poster declaring that “Nothing is more anti-Semitic than Zionism.”

At the counter-protests, people waved Israeli flags and called for solidarity with the Jewish state.

The German news agency dpa reported that the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein; the Israeli ambassador in Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff; and Berlin’s top security official, Andreas Geisel, attended the pro-Israel rally.

Geisel urged the German government to consider banning the political wing of the terror group Hezbollah.

Police were out in force to prevent clashes between the groups.

A protester holds a sign reading ‘Solidarity with Israel’ to protest against a march marking al-Quds Day in Berlin on June 1, 2019 (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

On Friday, al-Quds Day protests were held in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere

In Tehran, demonstrators set fire to American and Israeli flags, and also burned effigies of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Similar rallies took place in 950 cities and towns across the country.

Many high-ranking Iranian officials attended the rally in Tehran, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Iranians burn an Israeli flag during a parade marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Tehran on May 31, 2019. (AFP)

Both men derided the Trump administration’s so-called deal of the century peace plan, saying it would end in failure.

Iran has marked al-Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran — which arms terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are sworn to Israel’s destruction — says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians.

This year’s protests come as the White House is promoting the June 25-26 meeting in the Gulf state of Bahrain as the first phase of its long-awaited Mideast peace plan. That plan, whose specifics have yet to be released, includes large-scale investment and infrastructure work in the Palestinian territories, much of it funded by wealthy Arab countries.

Palestinian leaders said they won’t attend the summit.

American officials said the Bahrain conference will not include the core political issues of the conflict: borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees or Israeli security demands.

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