Berlin - Police arrested 65 people during a protest in favour of Palestine on Saturday and launched 87 investigations for offences including breach of the peace, bodily harm, freeing prisoners and resistance against law enforcement officers. Police chief Barbara Slowik presented the statistics Monday to the city's interior ministry.

Officers also wrote 150 tickets for misdemeanor offences against corona regulations.

The Saturday demonstration was dissoved - not because of anti-Israel or antisemitic slogans - due to failures to comply with corona regulations, such as refusing to wear masks or maintain social distancing. The protestors resisted the police's efforts, leading to the injury of 93 officers.

A different pro-Palestinian demonstration on Sunday was largely peaceful, according to police. About 1,500 people participated in the protest, a motorcade of 450 cars.

Audio recordings to be investigated

"The situation was complex," the police chief said. "The number of observers, some with small children and strollers, made police activity difficult."

Aggressive protestors also mixed with the crowd, making it even more difficult for police to separate troublemakers.

The police are still reviewing audo recordings from the protest to see if any of the anti-Israel and antisemitic slogans cross the threshold "for criminal liability," Slowik said.

The protest was co-organized by the Samidoun network, which is classified by Israel as a terrorist organisation. Interior minister Andreas Geisel (SPD) defended the decision not to ban the demonstration outright because they found now valid reason.

Dissolve it for the content

"The incidents are a clear sign that we are confronted with antisemitism, from the most diverse political motivations, and that this requires a clear counter course," Geisel said.

He said he would participate in a solidarity rally for Israel on Thursday at 7pm at the Brandenburg Gate.

Burkard Dregger, head of the CDU in the Berlin parliament, was critical of the decision to blame infection control as the reason for breaking up the Saturday protest. He will also attend the pro-Israel rally.

"There were open calls for destruction against Israel here. I expect that this government and also the police to have the guts to state this clearly. Otherwise you run the risk of not being taken seriously by the demonstrators and their environment. What are we going to do if there is no pandemic?" he said. 

Police are gearing up for more demonstrations. On Wednesday, the "Against Israeli aggression in Palestine" protest will be held at 6pm at Alexanderplatz and has registered with 500 participants. Other demos directed against Israel are registered for Saturday.