Written by: Kate Norman
Article source: www.bridgesforpeace.com

One man in east Germany attempted to turn Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)—the holiest day of the Jewish calendar—into a bloodbath. The German man killed two people in the city of Halle while attempting to attack a synagogue during the Yom Kippur services.

The perpetrator, whom police have identified as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, shot a woman passing by outside the synagogue and a man in a nearby kebab shop. Balliet, described by the media as a right-wing extremist or neo-Nazi, livestreamed the attack on Twitch, a video platform owned by Amazon.

The gunman was captured by police and is currently in custody “being treated” for injuries, a police spokesperson told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Before carrying out the attack, the assailant posted a manifesto online in which he declared in a thick German accent that he believes the Holocaust never happened, blames the falling birth rate in the West on feminism and ends with: “the root of all these problems is the Jews.”

Determined to punish the people whom he blames for the world’s problems, Balliet began his attack with failed attempts to penetrate the synagogue doors, which were bolted shut. He repeatedly shot the door with a homemade rifle and tossed homemade bombs over the walls, attempting to do any damage he could once he realized he wouldn’t be getting inside.

Meanwhile, the 70–80 people inside the synagogue watched on security cameras as the gunman, dressed in combat gear and a steel helmet, tried to get inside.

“The man looked like he was from the special forces,” Max Privorotzki, a local Jewish community, told Stuttgarter Zeitung. “But our doors held firm. We barricaded our doors from inside and waited for the police.” While they waited, the Jewish people continued with their Yom Kippur services, Privorotzki said.

Frustrated at his inability to get inside the place of worship and take Jewish lives, Balliet then trained his gun on a woman in her 50s passing by, shooting her in the back and killing her. He frightened off another person passing by in a van who attempted to help the woman before getting into his car and driving to a nearby Turkish kebab shop.

He tossed another homemade bomb inside before entering the shop and shooting a man at point-blank range, killing him.

“He was very calm, like a professional,” one of the workers in the restaurant said in a TV interview. “He didn’t say anything. He just kept coming and shooting…I was hiding behind the salad counter.”

The shooter then ran outside toward his car and traded fire with the police. He made it back into his vehicle and told his audience on the livestream that he had been shot in the neck.

“Sorry guys, that was it. A total loser…” he said before he hurled his phone out the window.

The 35-minute video of the attack was streamed on Twitch until the platform operators became aware of it and took it down, threatening to suspend the accounts of any other users who shared its content.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement calling on Germany to “continue taking determined action against anti-Semitism.”

“The terrorist attack against the Jewish community in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of our people, is additional testimony that anti-Semitism in Europe is increasing,” the prime minister said. “On behalf of the people of Israel, I send condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a quick recovery to the injured.”

The attack, like many others, should illustrate the dangers of anti-Semitism on society, chairman of the March of the Living Samuel Rosenman said.

“The whole of Europe [needs] to wake up and acknowledge that it is not doing enough to eradicate anti-Semitism,” Rosenman said, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

This was not the only recent incident of anti-Semitic violence in Germany. On Friday a Syrian man, shouting “Allahu akhbar” (“Allah is great”) and brandishing a knife, attempted to enter a synagogue in Berlin. The police arrested the man and later released him from custody, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Last week, a 27-year-old Israeli woman was attacked in a cemetery in Bavaria when an Arab-speaking man heard her speaking Hebrew, screamed “Jew” in Arabic and threw a stone at her head, causing a head injury. Police are still searching for the perpetrator.

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Date published: 12/10/2019
Feature image: Jewish parishioners in traditional clothing and police forces stand near the scene of a shooting that left two people dead on Oct. 9, 2019, in Halle, Germany. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

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