On Thursday morning, 500 police officers in Germany searched the homes of Hamas members and supporters, after a formal ban on any action by or in favor of the militant group. The German government imposed the ban on Nov. 2 and disbanded Samidoun, a group behind a Berlin celebration of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
According to AP, Germany’s domestic intelligence service, Hamas has approximately 450 members in the country. Their operations span from demonstrations of sympathy and propaganda to financing and fundraising to strengthen the group internationally.
“We are continuing our consistent action against radical Islamists,” stated German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. “By banning Hamas and Samidoun in Germany, we have sent a clear signal that we will not tolerate any glorification or support of Hamas’ barbaric terror against Israel.”
The raids, which were largely conducted in Berlin, were intended to implement the restrictions and further investigate the groups, according to a statement issued by the German interior ministry.
Over 500 police officers searched 16 properties in Berlin and the states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Schleswig-Holstein.
More than 300 police officers searched 11 locations in Berlin alone in order to confiscate evidence and assets. There were seven Hamas-related searches and four Samidoun-related searches.
Anti-Semitic Hate Speech
According to the German news agency dpa, the searches primarily took place at the houses of supporters and the facilities of a Palestinian association. Following the last Israel-Hamas war, Germany has cracked down on anti-Semitic organizations.
Police raided the houses of 17 persons in the southern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday, accusing them of disseminating antisemitic hate speech and threats directed at Jews online. On November 16, German police raided 54 locations across the country as part of an investigation into a Hamburg-based organization suspected of promoting the Iranian leadership’s ideology and maybe assisting Hezbollah activities in Germany.
“We are keeping a close eye on the Islamist scene,” Faeser said in a statement. “Islamists and antisemites cannot and must not feel safe anywhere here.” She stated that Hamas members and supporters in Germany are also determined to influence the country’s political and social discourse.
Hamas has promised to destroy Israel and has carried out numerous suicide bombings and other fatal attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers. Following the group’s entry into Israel in October, Israel threatened to destroy it.
In 1997, the US State Department recognized Hamas as a terrorist organization. It is also considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and other Western countries.
Fears in Germany’s Jewish Community
Meanwhile, some Germans, notably those on the political left, have questioned if the restrictions on pro-Palestinian demonstrations are an overreach of the state, claiming that they dampen valid worries about civilian losses in Gaza as a result of Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
However, based on previous experience, Berlin police believe the likelihood of antisemitic speech — and even violence — at forbidden pro-Palestinian demonstrations is too great.
Many on the radical left have joined the protests that have occurred.
According to a recent study, 78 percent of supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany disagree with the notion that the country has a “special obligation towards Israel.” Extremist politicians have also urged Germany to abandon its “cult of guilt.”
The inferno in the Middle East has made dread part of daily life for many in the country’s Jewish community, which has risen to an estimated 200,000 people in recent years, including many Israelis.
Fears in the Jewish community were especially high when a former Hamas leader called for worldwide protests in a “day of rage.” Many kids at a Jewish school in Berlin chose to remain at home. Two instructors submitted a letter to Berlin’s mayor, expressing their dismay that the school was “nearly empty.”