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Merkel warns of 'different type of anti-Semitism' in Germany

"The fact that no kindergarten, no school, no synagogue can be left without police protection dismays us."
Image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela MerkelMichael Sohn / AP

MAINZ, Germany — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has denounced a "different type of anti-Semitism" that has taken root in her country.

She also vowed to do everything possible to ensure the safety of Jews in Germany.

"We have refugees now, for example, or people of Arab origin, who bring a different type of anti-Semitism into the country," Merkel said in an interview with Israel's Channel 10. "But unfortunately, anti-Semitism existed before this."

Merkel said her government has appointed a new commissioner to fight anti-Semitism and to support Jewish life in Germany.

She added: "The fact that no kindergarten, no school, no synagogue can be left without police protection dismays us."

According to preliminary police statistics, at least 1,421 anti-Semitic crimes were committed last year — including at least 32 of a violent nature. That compares to 1,434 in 2016, along with 34 violent crimes, and 1,330 in 2015, including 36 violent ones. In 2014, 1,551 anti-Semitic crimes were reported, including 45 violent crimes.

However, anti-Semitic incidents — which include those not considered criminal offenses — appear to have been rising. The Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, a Berlin-based NGO, recently highlighted that two to three incidents are reported per day in the German capital. According to the group, the number of individuals affected rose by 55 percent in 2017.

Merkel’s decision to open Germany's borders resulted in around 1 million asylum-seekers reaching the country in 2015. At times more than 10,000 people were arriving daily. Germany had a population of 81 million at the time.

Her comments follow an attack targeting two men wearing kippahs that made headlines across Germany last week.

One of the victims, a 21-year-old Israeli, was hit with a belt, police say. A video of the incident was posted on Facebook showed the attacker repeatedly shouting “Yahudi,” the Arabic word for “Jew.”

A suspect turned himself in to police on Friday. A spokesperson for Berlin Police told NBC News that he is a 19-year-old Syrian refugee.