Hundreds of Germans form ‘human shield’ to protect Berlin synagogue

350 gather at Fraenkelufer Synagogue, where security gates are adorned with images of dozens of those kidnapped by Hamas and held in Gaza Strip

Hundreds of people gather in front of the synagogue at the Fraenkelufer as they attend a vigil in Berlin, Germany, October 13, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
Hundreds of people gather in front of the synagogue at the Fraenkelufer as they attend a vigil in Berlin, Germany, October 13, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

An estimated 350 people stood outside of Berlin’s Fraenkelufer Synagogue on Friday to symbolically protect it during a day that the Hamas terror group called for international protest action against Israel.

Hamas called for a “day of rage” against Israel as a follow-up to the terror group’s murderous October 7 assault, during which masses of gunmen invaded Israel and killed over 1,300 people, at least a thousand of whom were civilians.

As over 1,500 terrorists rampaged through the south of the country, they also abducted some 200 men, women, and children, taking them as hostages into Gaza. Hamas also fired a barrage of over 5,000 rockets at the country.

The Fraenkelufer Synagogue’s protective gate — erected to protect the building during terror threats in recent decades — was hung with about 40 posters bearing the names and photos of people kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas, including a six-month-old baby.

Jewish communities had feared possible threats on Friday in response to Hamas’s call, even though the FBI and major Jewish security groups had not identified any specific causes of concern.

Antisemitic incidents online and offline have spiked throughout much of Western Europe since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

In Germany, police were investigating a case of graffiti after a resident reported that someone had painted a Star of David on an apartment building door on Thursday. The building is located in the city’s Prenzlauer Berg district, which is home to many of the estimated 10,000 Israelis living in Germany’s capital.

According to news reports, police believe the incident was politically motivated.

According to Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, police reported two new cases of Star of David graffiti in Berlin on Sunday, on residential buildings on Paul-Linke-Ufer in the Kreuzberg district, and on a wheelchair ramp in Friedrichshain. In the Hellersdorf district, youth set an Israeli flag on fire, the outlet reported.

The Israeli embassy commented on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the graffiti “brings back the worst memories, especially in Germany,” where Jews were forced to wear identifying yellow stars during the Holocaust.

Despite extra security measures, many Jewish parents in Berlin reportedly kept their children at home on Friday instead of sending them to Jewish schools.

“Today is a day of fear for Jews around the world and here in Germany,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a visit on Friday afternoon to the Fraenkeluefer Synagogue.

Israel has retaliated to the massive terror attack with intensive artillery and airstrikes on Gaza and has declared its intention to eradicate Hamas, and officials from the Hamas-controlled health ministry estimate that some 2,700 Palestinian have been killed. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides out, while issuing evacuation warnings to civilians in regions it plans to attack.

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