In a targeted operation, German authorities conducted home raids on Tuesday in the state of Bavaria, targeting 17 individuals accused of disseminating antisemitic hate speech and threats against Jews on social media. The suspects, consisting of 15 men and two women aged between 18 and 62, were apprehended for allegedly celebrating the October 7 attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel.
The Bavarian criminal police, who led the operation, reported that evidence, including cellphones and laptops, was confiscated during the raids. The suspects were accused of utilizing symbols associated with banned terrorist organizations in their online activities.
The operation primarily focused on Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, where nine of the accused individuals resided. Additional searches were carried out in the Bavarian towns of Fuessen and Kaufbeuren, as well as in the counties of Passau, Fuerstenfeldbruck, Berchtesgadener Land, Coburg, Aschaffenburg, and Hassberge.
Allegations against the suspects include sending antisemitic messages, such as a sticker in a WhatsApp school class chat that read “Gas the Jews,” and online posts advocating for the “extermination” of Jewish individuals.
The rise in antisemitic incidents in Germany has prompted strong condemnation from top officials. Last month, Germany’s chancellor and president expressed concern about the surge in antisemitism following the Israel-Hamas conflict. In Bavaria alone, there were 148 antisemitic incidents reported from October 7 to November 9, marking a 285% increase from the same period the previous year, according to the RIAS group, which monitors antisemitism in the country.
Michael Weinzierl, the Bavarian police commissioner against hate crime, emphasized the impact of antisemitism on the daily lives of Jews in Germany, stating that the recent terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel had also affected Jews living in the state.
Germany, known for its strict rules against hate speech, has witnessed a crackdown on the use of banned symbols, including swastikas and other Nazi symbols. Holocaust denial is also prohibited. The recent raids underscore the country’s commitment to combating antisemitism and protecting minority communities.
The Israel-Hamas conflict, triggered by Hamas’ attacks on Israel, has led to widespread international concern, with efforts to address the broader implications of the conflict extending beyond the immediate geographical area of the Middle East.