There will be additional surveillance patrols from the federal police in Antwerp and Brussels for the security of the Jewish community and institutions. Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) announced this on Tuesday. The measure is due to an increased risk of tensions in our country due to the situation in the Middle East. “We’ll see what happens,” responds Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA).
Minister Verlinden’s decision follows the analysis of the threat by the Ocad (the body that analyzes the threat) and the requested 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 attack by the terrorist group Hamas in Israel on October 7, that threat level was already at level 3 for Jewish and Israeli interests. But given the current situation in the Middle East, Ocad points to a possible increased risk of increasing tensions in our country.
That is why there will be extra patrols for additional vigilance and police presence. The National Crisis Center previously issued a directive to provide supervision for schools and worship services. Minister Verlinden has asked the federal police to determine the practical modalities in consultation with the local police forces involved.
Question from De Wever
Since the outbreak of the conflict, Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever has been asking for additional police support and the deployment of the army to provide additional security for the Jewish institutions and residents in his city.
When asked about the deployment of soldiers in Antwerp, he receives a ‘njet’ for the time being. According to Defense Minister Ludivine Dendonder (PS), the option is currently not on the table.
Her colleague from the Interior now answers his request for more police deployment. Two weeks ago she announced that local police zones would be strengthened. Now there will also be extra deployment from the federal police.
De Wever: ‘A few days ago Verlinden spoke of “panic mongering”’
“We’ll see what happens in practice,” De Wever responds to the announcement. ‘The fact that the minister is finally coming around seems at first glance to be a good thing. A few days ago she spoke of “panic mongering”. But it is still unclear what that precise support will entail.’
De Wever states 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.”