Israeli, German Officials Condemn Halle Synagogue Shooting, Warn of Uptick in anti-Semitism

Netanyahu calls attack, which claimed the lives of two people on Yom Kippur, an expression of 'rising anti-Semitism'; Merkel attends Berlin vigil in solidarity

Policemen patrol a Jewish cemetery close to the site of a shooting in Halle, Germany, October 9, 2019
AFP

German and Israeli officials were quick to condemn Wednesday evening the shooting attack near a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle, which claimed the lives of two people.

The attack, carried out by a 27-year-old German citizen after he failed to enter the synagogue where worshippers were attending Yom Kippur prayers, was most likely motivated by anti-Semitic ideology, according to German officials. 

>> Read more: German synagogue shooting makes clear the far right targets Jews and Muslims alike | Analysis

Extending his condolences and urging German authorities to do their utmost to combat anti-Semitism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack "another expression of rising anti-Semitism in Europe."

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement on Twitter in which he called on "the leaders of Germany and the free world to bring the full force of law against anti-Semitism and its results."

"We will continue to campaign for education and remembrance in the fight [against] anti-Semitism which raises its head again and again in Europe and across the world, based on the clear understanding that it is not a problem of the Jews alone, but threatens to destroy us all," Rivlin added.

Netanyahu's challenger for the premiership, Benny Gantz, echoed their sentiments, stating that German authorities should begin "security procedures in the immediate vicinity of Jewish institutions."

"These incidents should ring alarm bells, and emphasize the need to quell anti-Semitism - by force, by deterrence and by changing the discourse," the Kahol Lavan party leader said.

On Wednesday night, the president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, called the lack of police protection on Yom Kippur "scandalous," accusing the security establishment of negligence.

Israel's Foreign Ministry issued its own condemnation and condolences, via a statement, which Israel's envoy to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, repeated on Twitter. 

"The rise of neo-nazi movements and antisemitism in Germany and elsewhere is alarming," the diplomat added, "and every effort must be made to eliminate this dreadful scourge with the full force of the law by the relevant security authorities employing effective zero tolerance."

European leaders also reacted, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel attending a vigil outside Berlin's New Synagogue, as a "sign of solidarity," according to her spokesperson. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas earlier said: "we must all act against anti-Semitism in our country." 

"That on the Day of Atonement a synagogue was shot at hits us in the heart," Maas wrote on Twitter.

"On this day we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted.

All sides of Israel's divided political establishment issued condolences and condemnations. The chairman of the Joint List of Arab-majority parties, Ayman Odeh, tweeted in English: "Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are strongly connected. All those who believe in democracy, from all religious backgrounds, must unite to send vile neo-Nazis back to the history books," Odeh said.

His fellow party member, Ofer Cassif, was more biting in his condemnation, saying it was "impossible to ignore the international racist alliance that is forming in front of our eyes."

"Yet, instead of Israel being the first to condemn and boycott neo-fascist governments around the world, it trades with them and makes them stronger," the far-left MK added.

"For the occupation, we made a pact with the devil."