Hundreds of German police raid properties of Hamas supporters in Berlin following ban
BERLIN (AP) — Hundreds of police officers searched the properties of Hamas members and followers in Germany on Thursday morning following a formal ban on any activity by or in support of the militant group.
The German government implemented the ban on November 2 and dissolved Samidoun, a group that was behind a celebration in Berlin of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.
Germany’s domestic intelligence service estimates that Hamas has around 450 members in the country. Their activities range from expressions of sympathy and propaganda activities to financing and fundraising activities to strengthen the organisation abroad.
“We are continuing our consistent action against radical Islamists,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said. “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 mostly took place in Berlin, were meant to enforce the bans and to further investigate the groups, the German interior ministry said in a statement.
A total of 16 properties were searched by 500 police officers in Berlin and the states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein.
In Berlin alone, more than 300 police officers carried out searches at 11 locations in order to seize evidence and assets. Seven searches were related to Hamas and four to Samidoun. The searches mainly took place at the homes of supporters and the premises of a Palestinian association, German news agency dpa reported.
Germany has been clamping down on groups supporting antisemitism in the wake of the latest Israel-Hamas war.
On Tuesday, police raided the homes of 17 people in the southern German state of Bavaria who were accused of spreading antisemitic hate speech and threats targeting Jews online. On November 16, German police raided 54 locations across the country in an investigation of a Hamburg-based organisation suspected of promoting the Iranian leadership’s ideology and possibly supporting activities of Hezbollah in Germany.
“We are keeping a close eye on the Islamist scene,” Faeser said. “Islamists and antisemites cannot and must not feel safe anywhere here.” She said the members and supporters of Hamas in Germany are also committed to influencing the political and social discourse in the country.
Hamas has vowed to annihilate Israel and has been responsible for many suicide bombings and other deadly attacks on civilians and Israeli soldiers. After the group’s incursion into Israel in October, Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas.
The US State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997. The European Union and other Western countries also consider it a terrorist organisation.