Jewish leaders vehemently demanded resolute action from Germany on Thursday to protect the community in the wake of a deadly anti-Semitic gun attack in Halle, Germany, on the holy day of Yom Kippur.
The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster lashed out at authorities for failing to provide adequate security on such a key day, quoted by AFP as saying:
“It is scandalous that the synagogue in Halle is not protected by police on a holiday like Yom Kippur. This negligence has now been bitterly repaid.”
Ronald Lauder, who heads the World Jewish Congress, also stressed:
“We need action not words” as he called for round the clock security for Jewish sites.
The European Jewish Congress similarly expressed condemnation and concern after the shooting, saying:
“We are relieved that an even greater tragedy was avoided because of the security around the synagogue which apparently took measures to ensure that the attacker was not able to enter into the premises,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said.
“However, that Jews observing one of the holiest days of the year were targeted for death should send shock waves in Germany and beyond. We need to do more to guarantee these types of attacks do not happen again, by combatting radicalisation, creating tougher law enforcement measures and putting more resources into educating towards tolerance,” added Kantor.
On Wednesday Shimon Samuels, the international relations director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote a letter to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, warning that the shooting could be a deadly precursor to further attacks timed to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of Kristallnacht.
“It is known that both extreme right and Islamist terrorists often act to mark anniversaries. If so, this may be a precursor to [the] Kristallnacht [anniversary],” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined a chorus of voices urging German authorities to “act resolutely against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.”
Germans need to stand together against extremist violence and protect Jewish life, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday after visiting the synagogue where Wednesday's gunman began his attack.
"Today is a day of shame and disgrace. I'm very sure the overwhelming majority of this society in Germany wants Jewish life to be part of this country ... We must stand together long-term against violence like we experienced here yesterday. We must protect Jewish life," said Steinmeier.
German Synagogue Shooting
Two people were killed on 9 October in a shooting near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, during Yom Kippur, one of the main holidays in Judaism.
German media have reported that the suspected gunman, arrested by police after the attack, was Stephan Balliet, a 27-year-old German citizen, who broadcast his attack online and expressed anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and anti-feminist sentiments.
The gunman also published an anti-Semitic “manifesto” online more than a week ago, according to SITE director Rita Katz, who said the document showed pictures of the weapons and ammunition he used.
The shooter filmed himself launching into a diatribe against women and Jews with a head-mounted camera when heading towards the synagogue, but the locked gates of the building forced him to improvise, gunning down a random woman in the street and a man inside a nearby kebab shop, before being captured by police.
At least two other people were reportedly injured.