Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned a street assault in Berlin on two young men wearing Jewish skullcaps that has stoked the debate about anti-Semitism in Germany.

In a surprising twist, however, one victim of the attack, who identified himself as Adam Armoush, later said he was not Jewish, but an Israeli from an Arab family.

Mr Armoush told Deutsche Welle Television that he wore the skullcap to make a point to a friend who said it was risky to do so in Germany.

“I was saying it’s really safe and I wanted to prove it, but it ended like that,” he said.

The incident comes at a time of increased fears of anti-Semitism and indications that attacks against Jews are on the rise.

A video of the attack on Tuesday showing Ms Armoush being whipped with a belt quickly went viral with people assuming that he was Jewish.

+++ ???? ERNEUTE ANTISEMITISCHE ATTACKE IN BERLIN +++Keine Woche nach dem Yom HaShoa, dem Tag des Holocausts, wird wieder ein junger israeli am helllichten Tag in Berlin attackiert! Wie zuvor auch Yorai Feinberg, hat der Angegriffene die Tat filmen können – diesmal wurde der Täter sogar gewalttätig!Deutlich zu sehen: Ein südländisch aussehender Mann, der mit einem Gürtel mehrere Male zuschlägt.Deutlich zu hören: „YAHUDI“, das arabische Wort für Jude. Der attackierte junge Mann schreibt: „Ich wurde heute von zwei Personen attackiert, einfach weil ich mit der Kippa raus gehen wollte. Sowas schlimmes habe ich nicht erwartet.. noch in Berlin!!“???? Als Berliner bin ich schockiert und beschämt, als Repräsentant der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin sage ich: Die Polizei und Staatsanwaltschaft sind jetzt gefordert den Angreifer schnellstmöglich zu identifizieren und mit der vollen Härte unserer Gesetze zu betrafen. Die Beweise liegen auf der Hand! Trotz anhaltender öffentlicher Debatten, scheinen die bisher angewandten Schritte nicht zu fruchten. Wenn wir jetzt nicht endlich beginnen resolut durchgreifen, dann schreiten wir auf eine Zukunft zu, in der sich Juden in Deutschland nicht mehr frei auf die Straßen trauen werden.

Posted by Mike Samuel Delberg on Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Ms Merkel called the attack in the city’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood “a very horrible incident”.

She vowed the government would respond “with full force and resolve” against growing anti-Semitism in Germany.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that “Jews shall never again feel threatened here”.

“It’s our responsibility to protect Jewish life here,” he wrote in reference to the killing of 6 million European Jews by Germany under the Nazis in the Holocaust more than 70 years ago.

The video does not show how the fight started, but Mr Armoush told Israeli Kan TV he was leaving his Berlin home when the three people started swearing at them.

“They kept cursing us and my friend asked them to stop cursing,” Mr Armoush said in Hebrew.

“They started to get angry and one of them ran to me and I knew it was important to film it because there would be no way to catch him by the time police arrived.”

Police said they are still looking for the attackers.

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Two Jewish organisations posted the video, which showed a young man attacking Mr Armoush while yelling “Yahudi!” or “Jew” in Arabic.

The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, demanded punishment for the perpetrators, tweeting that “it makes me angry to see such violence full of hatred”.

The RIAS group said Berlin saw 947 anti-Semitic incidents including 18 attacks and 23 threats last year.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise across Germany.

Several Jewish students have reported anti-Semitic bullying in schools in recent months and Israeli flags were burnt during a recent protest in Berlin.

Earlier this month, Germany appointed a diplomat to co-ordinate government activities against anti-Semitism.