Fri, Oct 11, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Jews demand action after attack

GERMAN ATROCITY:The man filmed himself launching into a diatribe against women and Jews before carrying out the assault in which two people were killed

AFP, HALLE, Germany

Jewish leaders yesterday demanded action from Germany to protect the community and face down resurgent right-wing extremism after a deadly anti-Semitic gun attack on the holy day of Yom Kippur underscored the rising threat of neo-Nazi violence.

At least two people were shot dead in the eastern city of Halle on Wednesday, with a synagogue among the targets.

The suspect, identified by German media as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, filmed the assault and posted the video online.

The rampage was streamed live for 35 minutes on Twitch and eventually seen by about 2,200 people, the online platform said, in a chilling reminder of the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March which was also steamed online.

Police subsequently captured the Halle suspect after a gunbattle that left him injured.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday joined a solidarity vigil at Berlin’s main synagogue and firmly condemned the anti-Semitic rampage, but Jewish leaders said that words were not enough, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joining calls for German authorities to “act resolutely against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.”

“It is scandalous that the synagogue in Halle is not protected by police on a holiday like Yom Kippur,” Central Council of Jews in Germany president Josef Schuster said. “This negligence has now been bitterly repaid.”

“We need action not words,” said World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder as he called for round-the-clock security for Jewish sites. “We also need immediately to launch a unified front against neo-Nazi and other extremist groups, which threaten our well-being. The fact that, 75 years after the Holocaust, such groups are gaining influence in Germany speaks volumes.”

The gunman filmed himself launching into a diatribe against women and Jews in a 35-minute video before carrying out the attack.

The video’s authenticity had been confirmed by the SITE Intelligence Group, but not by police.

The gunman published an anti-Semitic “manifesto” online more than a week ago, SITE director Rita Katz said, adding that the document showed pictures of the weapons and ammunition he used.

In the video, he was seen trying to force open the synagogue door before shooting dead a female passerby. He then tried unsuccessfully to blast open the gate of the Jewish cemetery with explosives.

The man was later seen shooting at a patron of a kebab shop about 600m away from the synagogue.

Jewish community leader Max Privorotzki, who was in the Halle synagogue, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung of the harrowing minutes as the site came under assault.

“We saw through the camera of our synagogue that a heavily armed perpetrator wearing a steel helmet and rifle was trying to shoot open our door,” Privorotzki said.

Between 70 and 80 people were in the synagogue then, he said.

“We barricaded our doors from inside and waited for the police,” he added. “In between, we carried on with our service.”

Among those in the synagogue were 10 Americans, as well as several Israelis, who were in Halle especially to join the small local Jewish population in celebrating Yom Kippur.

“We’ve made it out with our lives, in health and amazing spirits,” wrote Rebecca Blady, a Jewish-American community leader, who was in the synagogue.

The owner of the kebab shop, Rifat Tekin, described the gunman as “calm like a professional.”

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