German authorities conducted raids on the residences of 17 individuals in the state of Bavaria who were accused of spreading antisemitic hate speech and making threats against Jews online. The suspects, consisting of 15 men and two women aged between 18 and 62, were interrogated by the Bavarian criminal police, who also seized evidence such as cell phones and laptops from their homes. According to reports from German news agency dpa, the suspects had allegedly celebrated the attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel that took place on October 7. They were also accused of disseminating hate speech against Jewish people on social media, utilizing symbols associated with banned terrorist organizations.
The police operation primarily focused on Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, where nine of the accused reside. Additional searches were conducted in the Bavarian towns of Fuessen and Kaufbeuren, as well as in the counties of Passau, Fuerstenfeldbruck, Berchtesgadener Land, Coburg, Aschaffenburg, and Hassberge. One suspect reportedly distributed a sticker in a WhatsApp group chat for a school class, depicting a clown with the phrase “Gas the Jews.” Another individual, a dual citizen of Germany and Turkey, allegedly posted on their account that “the Jewish sons” deserved nothing more than extermination.
Furthermore, a Turkish citizen among the suspects is accused of sharing a picture of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler shortly after the October 7 attacks. The image was accompanied by the caption “I could kill all the Jews, but I left some alive to show you why I killed them.” Additionally, the suspect posted a Palestinian flag, the phrase “Free Palestine,” and an emoji displaying a victory sign.
Michael Weinzierl, the Bavarian police commissioner against hate crime, acknowledged the impact of antisemitism on the daily lives of many Jews in Germany. He stated that the terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel also affects their lives in Germany. Weinzierl emphasized the importance of demonstrating support for Jews and Israelis residing in Bavaria, assuring them of protection from hostility.
Last month, Germany’s chancellor and president strongly condemned the increasing antisemitism in the country following the Israel-Hamas conflict. Germany has strict regulations against hate speech, and it is not uncommon for raids to be conducted in connection with the dissemination of banned symbols, such as swastikas and other Nazi imagery. Denial of the Holocaust, in which approximately 6 million European Jews were murdered by the Nazis, is also prohibited.
The Israel-Hamas war erupted after surprise attacks by the militant group resulted in the death of around 1,200 people in Israel. In response, Israel launched retaliatory strikes on Gaza, resulting in over 12,700 deaths according to Palestinian health authorities.