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Berlin protest against Israel’s Gaza op turns violent

BERLIN (JTA) — Rocks were thrown at police in Berlin during a protest by some 1,000 demonstrators — most of them Palestinians — against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

As many as 10 demonstrators were arrested for breach of the peace and trying to forcibly free others already arrested in Saturday’s protest, a police spokesman said. One police officer was struck by a rock but was not injured.

The march was unregistered; demonstrations in Berlin require a police permit.

The demonstrators, who the police spokesman said were aggressive and chanting, tried unsuccessfully to enter the “Fan Mile,” where tens of thousands of soccer fans have been gathering to watch World Cup games on big screens over the past few weeks. Pushed back by police, the protesters proceeded up one of Berlin’s main avenues near Potsdamer Platz.

Facing a major police response, the demonstrators — at that point led by someone who was trying to calm them, the spokesman said — gradually broke up.

By some estimates, Berlin is home to 35,000 Arabs of Palestinian origin.

On Friday, several hundred pro-Israel demonstrators gathered at Wittenberg Platz in Berlin under the banner “Fight Terror, Support Israel” organized by the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin, a non-denominational NGO.

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