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Ex-Israeli soldier attacked with irritant gas in Berlin

October 9, 2021

The 29-year-old Berlin resident was harassed by the attackers, who sprayed irritant gas in his face and threw him to the ground. Police are investigating what they suspect to be a politically motivated crime.

Police officers stand guard near the Reichstag, the seat of Germany's lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin,
Germany has seen a rise in antisemitic hate crimes in recent yearsImage: Christian Mang/REUTERS

An ex-Israeli soldier was assaulted outside a train station in Berlin by unknown assailants, police said Saturday, calling it an antisemitic attack.

The 29-year-old man, a resident of Berlin, was wearing a pullover with the Israel Defense Forces logo when the incident took place on Friday evening.

He was approached by someone in the east of the German capital and was asked about his faith, the police said in a statement.

"Suddenly, (the attacker) sprayed irritant in his face and pushed him to the ground," they said.

The man was unable to tell whether it was a single assailant or several, who then fled the scene.

He found help in a nearby store and was able to alert the police.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the incident on suspicion of "politically motivated bodily harm."

Two years after Halle attack

The incident comes a day after the second anniversary of the deadly attack outside a synagogue and surrounding areas in the eastern German city of Halle.

In 2019, a far-right gunman tried to shoot his way into the house of worship. After he failed to breach the locked outer gates, he shot dead two people outside in frustration.

This week, German musician Gil Ofarim accused a Leipzig hotel of antisemitism, saying he was told to take off his Star of David pendant before being allowed to check in.

Earlier this month, antisemitic incidents were reported in the German capital during a football match between Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa.

A group of people holding Israeli flags in close proximity to the away section said they had experienced antisemitic abuse from some Union Berlin fans.

Germany has also seen a rise in antisemitic hate crimes in recent years.

The latest government figures showed the number of registered cases of attacks and hate crimes hitting a new upward trend in 2020.

Authorities logged 2,275 such crimes until the end of January 2021 — the highest number of antisemitic hate crimes since German police started collecting data on "politically motivated criminality" in 2001.

adi/rc (AP, dpa)