Pro- and anti-Israel demonstrations face off in Berlin
Pro-Palestinian rally to mark Al-Quds Day, which drew some 1,000 people, is met by march in support of Jewish state, attended by Germany's anti-Semitism commissioner, Israeli ambassador, and Berlin's top security official; police in German capital keep both events separate
BERLIN -- Hundreds of people, including prominent German politicians and members of the Jewish community, were protesting Saturday against a larger, anti-Israel rally in Berlin.
Police in the German capital kept the competing protests on Saturday apart.
The annual al-Quds -- Arabic for Jerusalem -- march against Israel drew more than 1,000 participants, with some chanting "Palestine will be reborn!" or "Free Gaza!" Others waved Iranian flags.
The German news agency dpa reported that the government's anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein; the Israeli ambassador in Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff; and Berlin's top security official, Andreas Geisel, attended the pro-Israel rally.
Geisel urged the German government to consider banning the political wing of the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah.
Some at the counter-protest waved Israeli flags and banners with slogans such as "It's time to turn Hamas into hummus."
Earlier this week, the German government has called on people to wear the kippa Jewish headcovering ahead of the anti-Israel protest, as a demonstration of solidarity as Jews face a spike in anti-Semitism, withdrawing an earlier warning against wearing the traditional skullcap.
Last the weekend, Klein sparked uproar when he said in an interview with the Funke regional press group that he could not "advise Jews to wear the kippa everywhere all the time in Germany."
President Reuven Rivlin voiced shock at Klein's warning and said it was a "capitulation to anti-Semitism" and evidence that Jews are unsafe in Germany.
Late Monday, Klein reversed course after Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman intervened.
"The state must see to it that the free exercise of religion is possible for all... and that anyone can go anywhere in our country in full security wearing a kippa," Steffen Seibert told a press conference.
In his later statement to Funke, Klein said: "I call on all citizens of Berlin and across Germany to wear the kippa next Saturday if there are new, intolerable attacks targeting Israel and Jews on the occasion of al-Quds day in Berlin."