Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) has instructed the federal police to deploy additional surveillance patrols in Antwerp and Brussels to protect the Jewish Community and Jewish institutions. Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) reacts expectantly. “We will see what will happen in practice,” says De Wever.
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Minister Verlinden’s decision follows the analysis of the threat by the OCAD – the body that analyzes the threat – and the requested operational measures from the National Crisis Center. The threat level remains at 3 out of 4, both for the country and for the Jewish community and institutions.
Before the large-scale attack by the terrorist group Hamas on Israeli targets on October 7, that threat level was also at level 3 for Jewish and Israeli interests. But given the current situation in the Middle East, the OCAD refers to a possible increased risk of increasing tensions in our country.
That is why Minister Verlinden is ensuring additional vigilance and police presence with these additional patrols. The National Crisis Center previously issued a directive to provide supervision for schools and worship services. The minister has asked the federal police to determine the practical modalities in consultation with the local police forces involved.
Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) reacts expectantly to Verlinden’s announcement. De Wever has been asking for some form of federal support for guarding the Jewish quarter in his city since the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7. The local police have already conducted increased surveillance there in recent weeks, he says, but that requires a lot of extra capacity.
“The fact that the minister is finally coming around seems at first glance to be a good thing,” says De Wever. “A few days ago she spoke of ‘panic mongering’. But it is currently still unclear what that precise support will entail.” De Wever notes that during an earlier consultation, his police services requested a daily deployment of twenty federal police officers.
“In any case, it is incomprehensible that this was delayed for weeks, while in a country like France the army was immediately deployed,” De Wever concludes.
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