De Wever emphasized on Radio 1 that there is great concern and fear in Antwerp because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Especially in the Jewish community. “I don’t think that people who are pro-Palestine today should fear for their lives or being attacked by terrorists,” says Mayor Bart De Wever.
There have been several incidents in Antwerp since the Hamas attack in Israel. “Fortunately, so far they have been no more than incidents, it is about bullying and vandalism,” he clarifies. “For example, these are aimed at the businesses of people who have nothing to do with that conflict, but who are chosen as targets. That is distressing.”
The mayor wants to be vigilant. His concern and that of the Jewish community is that expressions of violence will follow.
De Wever finds it incomprehensible that our country does not deploy the army in this situation. “In France this happened immediately. That is the most normal thing in the world. The federal police have no reserves, so structurally they cannot send anyone extra to Antwerp. That’s just how it is. People do have the power of defense, but they do not want to use it in their own country. I don’t understand that at all.” In 2015, the army was deployed after the attacks in Paris. It was only in 2021 that soldiers disappeared from the streets again.
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De Wever also answers the question whether he helped stir up the matter by taking sides in his speech on October 10. “I don’t take back a word. That day I chose a side against terror, against Hamas, an Islamist terrorist movement against the West that would want to kill us if given the chance. Then you choose the victim, in this case Israel. If people make this a choice against the Palestinians, then they really haven’t listened to that speech properly.”
De Wever says he understands that Israel wants to defend itself against the terror of Hamas. “But a war is just what Hamas wanted. It provoked that war and Israel falls into the trap. It wants to isolate Israel again for decades, fuel anti-Semitism and provoke Islamist terror. So Israel’s response is as wrong as it can be, but of course I understand it.”
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