Pro and anti-Israel Protests Draw Hundreds in Berlin for Quds Day

March against Israel draws more than 1,000 participants, with some chanting 'Palestine will be reborn!' or 'Free Gaza!' while others wave Iranian flags

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Protesters attend a demonstration marking al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), Berlin, Germany June 1, 2019
Protesters attend a demonstration marking al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), Berlin, Germany June 1, 2019Credit: \ FABRIZIO BENSCH/ REUTERS

Hundreds of people, including prominent German politicians and members of the Jewish community, are protesting against a larger, anti-Israel rally in Berlin.

Police in the German capital of Berlin kept the competing protests on Saturday apart.

The annual al-Quds - Arabic for Jerusalem - march against Israel drew more than 1,000 participants, with some chanting "Palestine will be reborn!" or "Free Gaza!" Others waved Iranian flags.

A pro-Palestinian demonstrator during al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), Berlin, Germany, June 1, 2019Credit: \ FABRIZIO BENSCH/ REUTERS

>> Read more: Far right parties in Austria and Germany are making anti-Semitism acceptable again | Opinion

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.

Berlin's State Minister of the Interior Andreas Geisel at a pro-Israel demonstration during al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day) celebration, Berlin, Germany, June 1, 2019Credit: \ FABRIZIO BENSCH/ REUTERS

Klein recently made headlines for saying he could no longer recommend German Jews wear skullcaps in public out of fear for their safety, following an uptick in anti-Semitic crimes in the country.

The comment was rebuked by Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, who called it "a surrender to anti-Semitism," adding that "the responsibility for the peace, safety and freedom of the Jewish population of Germany is on the shoulders of the government and law enforcement agencies of Germany."

Several days later, Klein called upon non-Jewish Germans to wear kippas in public in a show of solidarity with local Jews, as well as encouraging them to attend pro-Israel events on al-Quds day.

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

Some at the counter-protest waved Israeli flags and banners with slogans such as "It's time to turn Hamas into hummus."

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