Syrian migrant admits attacking Israeli wearing a kippa in Berlin

A Syrian migrant has admitted whipping an Israeli man with his belt after he saw him wearing a kippa on the streets of Berlin.

The 19-year-old, named locally as Knaan al-S., appeared in court Tuesday charged with dangerous assault and hate speech against Adam Amrish, 21.

Knaan admitted the attack - which was caught on film - but said he was stoned at the time, not thinking straight, and only meant to scare Mr Amrush, not hit him. 

Knaan al-S., a 19-year-old Palestinian from Syria, has admitted to whipping Israeli Adam Amrish, 21, on the streets of Berlin with his belt because he was wearing a Jewish kippa

Knaan told a Berlin court on Tuesday that he was stoned at the time of the attack, had not been thinking straight, and had only meant to scare Mr Amrush

'I'm sorry, it was a mistake', the defendant told a Berlin court, while claiming the victim had insulted him first, reported news agency DPA. 

Video of the attack sparked widespread public revulsion in Germany as it spread on social media, and later triggered large street rallies to show solidarity with Jews. 

The footage of the April 17 assault shows Kaan, one of a group of three, shouting 'yahudi', which means 'Jew' in Arabic, before lashing out at the two men, leaving one injured.

Grievous bodily harm usually carries jail terms of three months to five years in Germany, but less under juvenile law which can be applied for defendants up to 20 years of age.

Newspaper Bild, which named Knaan, said he was registered at a refugee home in Brandenburg state outside Berlin but went on to live 'out of a suitcase' in the capital.

Knaan, who was living on the streets of Berlin at the time of the attack, also accused Mr Amrush of insulting him first as he appeared in court

Knaan is charged with dangerous assault and hate speech and appeared in court Tuesday

Mr Amrush is not Jewish but wore the kippa as part of a social experiment to see if it was safe to do so in Berlin

The victim who shot the video, a 21-year-old student, later revealed that he is not Jewish but an Israeli Arab, who was walking at the time with a German-Moroccan friend aged 24.

Mr Amrush told public broadcaster Deutsche Welle that they had wanted to test whether wearing a kippa was safe in the fashionable inner Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg.

He said he had uploaded the video 'for the police, the German people and the world to see how terrible it is these days to walk through Berlin streets as a Jew'.

The attack was the latest to raise alarm bells about renewed anti-Semitism in Germany from both the far-right and a large influx of predominantly Muslim asylum seekers since 2015.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which captured nearly 13 per cent of the vote in September's general election, has broken a taboo by repeatedly challenging Germany's 'remembrance culture' and atonement for the Nazi era.

Mr Amrush was walking with his German-Moroccan friend (right) when he was attacked

The kippa worn by a young man when attacked in April allegedly by a 19-year-old Syrian refugee was put on display at the Jewish Museum in Berlin

Party member Bjoern Hoecke has called Berlin's Holocaust memorial a 'monument of shame', and AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland described the Nazi period as a 'speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history'.

News of the belt attack coincided with another public outcry, over a rap duo who made light of Nazi death camp prisoners but went on to win the music industry's sales-based Echo award, which was subsequently axed.

After the street assault, the head of the Jewish community in Germany, Joseph Schuster, said that Jews should avoid wearing religious symbols in big cities due to a heightened risk of targeted attacks.

The advice earned him a rebuke from the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center and the European Jewish Association, whose head Rabbi Margolin argued that to not wear the kippa 'fulfils the vision of anti-Semites in Europe'.

Days after the assault, some 2,000 people rallied at a 'Berlin Wears Kippa' solidarity demonstration, matched by smaller events in Cologne, Potsdam, Magdeburg and Erfurt.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking with Israeli television, denounced the emergence of 'another form of anti-Semitism' beyond that of right-wing extremist groups, from Muslim refugees.

She reaffirmed that the security of Jews and the state of Israel was a central concern for Germany because of its 'eternal responsibility' for the Holocaust in which the Nazis murdered six million European Jews.