FM Spokesman’s Briefing on Events in Berlin

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
18 February 1999

Following is Foreign Ministry Spokesman Aviv Shiron’s statement at the start of his briefing yesterday evening (Wednesday), 17.2.99, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem:

"The following are the details — as far as they are known to us — of the preliminary investigation. The local police investigation is continuing.

The Israeli Consulate in Berlin was attacked this afternoon, at around 12:30 local time, by dozens of demonstrators who broke into the area which is open to the public at the Consulate. From there, armed with clubs and bars, they violently broke into other areas inside the Consulate building.

Other demonstrators climbed the walls of the building and broke into into the building through upper-storey windows. The security guards tried to physically block the demonstrators from breaking into the building. They did not succeed and fired into the air. The security guards’ firing took place after rioters had tried to attack them; they fired in order to wound, in accordance with the security orders regarding situations in which there is a danger to life and it is necessary to defend themselves and the lives of other Consulate employees — Israeli and German. Despite the attack on the mission, we would like to express our regret over the loss of life and the fact that several people were wounded during the event.

Our missions have appealed to the local authorities with a request to reinforce their deployments and security measures around Israeli missions.

At Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon’s request, Foreign Ministry Director-General Eytan Bentsur will leave for Berlin tonight in order to support our emissaries and hold high-level contacts with the German authorities.

We would like to stress that the security guards’ firing was carried out in self-defense and that Israel is fully cooperating with the German authorities in investigating the incident.

The Foreign Ministry situation room was activated immediately upon first report of the incident and was staffed by all relevant personnel.