ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Jewish university student in Berlin badly beaten by classmate in fight over Hamas war

Lahav Shapira, grandson of Israeli coach killed in 1972 Munich Olympics, hospitalized after encounter with pro-Palestinian student; police search suspect’s home

German police officers stand guard in front of the building complex of the Kahal Adass Jisroel community, which houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center, in the center of Berlin, Germany, October 18, 2023. (AP/Markus Schreiber)
Illustrative: German police officers stand guard in front of the building complex of the Kahal Adass Jisroel community, which houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center, in the center of Berlin, Germany, October 18, 2023. (AP/Markus Schreiber)

A college student in Berlin beat a Jewish classmate until he was hospitalized after the two got into an argument Friday night about the Israel-Hamas war, police said.

The victim, Lahav Shapira, 30, was hospitalized and underwent surgery for non-life-threatening injuries to his face. He is the grandson of Israeli athletics coach Amitzur Shapira, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the Munich Olympics terror attack in 1972.

The Jewish student was out with an acquaintance in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood shortly before midnight on Friday when he encountered a fellow student from the university, 23.

The 23-year-old, who held strong pro-Palestinian views, and Shapira, who had posted pro-Israel views on social media, got into a heated discussion.

As the argument escalated, the 23-year-old repeatedly punched Shapira in the face until he fell to the ground, police said. The suspect kicked the older student while he was lying on the ground, and then fled the scene.

Shapira was brought to the hospital with facial fractures. Police said his injuries were not life-threatening.

Police eventually traced the suspect to his home in Berlin’s Schöneberg neighborhood, where they conducted a search and seized evidence, including his smartphone. Investigations are ongoing, police said.

The family’s account is different. Shahak Shapira tweeted, “There was no political debate whatsoever. He was recognized by the attacker in the bar, who followed him and his companion, spoke to them aggressively and then punched him in the face unannounced.”

Shapira’s mother, Tzipi Lev, who also lives in Germany, told Israeli media her son had been “sitting in a bar with his girlfriend. She felt like someone was constantly looking at her, and then Lahav told her that it was someone he knew from university.” She described the attacker as an Arab student.

According to Lev, the younger student “suddenly started attacking Lahav in a very harsh manner. He shouted at him: ‘Why are you posting pictures of kidnapped people?’ He was full of hate.”

On Monday, Lahav Shapira offered his own account to Israeli media from his hospital room. “He suddenly punched me from the side. Then another one and I lost my balance,” he recalled in the interview. “I tried to get up, so he kicked me in the face. And then when I got up, he ran away from the scene.”

The incident comes amid a drastic rise in antisemitic incidents in Germany, which have grown more common since war erupted following Hamas’s devastating onslaught in Israel on October 7, when terrorists rampaged through southern communities, murdering around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 253 people as hostages to Gaza.

Israel then launched a military offensive, now in its fourth month, aimed at eliminating the terror group and freeing the hostages.

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