While thousands of people in the Netherlands attended pro-Palestine protests on Sunday, the country’s prime minister has given a somewhat confusing response. Rutte has released an official statement encouraging both countries to work towards peace, but he has come under scrutiny for his tweets.
Several thousand people gathered in various cities to protest Israel’s response to the Gaza crisis. Protesters marched in Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon, many gathering in Dam Square, reports Nu.nl. People also gathered to protest in Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Groningen, and Enschede. All protesters were urged to keep the 1.5 meter distance, and police were present at many of the protests.
Many attendees of these protests carried the Palestinian flag. In Eindhoven, the crowd was addressed in Arabic and Dutch, holding a minute’s silence for the victims of “apartheid and genocide”. In Amsterdam, a handful of people gathered in the Beursplein holding Israeli flags.
What were they protesting?
Since mid-April, there have been outbreaks of violence between Israel and Palestine. These have included multiple incidences between the Israeli police and Palestinians, the use of tear gas against protesters on the Gaza border, and Israel threatening to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. Missiles and drone strikes have been carried out by both Israel and Gaza (a Palestinian territory.) This is part of an ongoing conflict between the two states which has lasted since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Israel maintains that any missiles fired at Gaza are out of protection. The Israeli army claim that over 3,000 have been fired by Gaza in the last week. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the overall death toll in Gaza from the recent conflicts stands at 197 including 58 children, reports the NOS.
Yesterday, the Dutch prime minister spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and Palestinian President Abbas where he urged both leaders to end the violence. After this talk, Rutte expressed his concerns in an official statement. “I am concerned that more and more civilians, including many children, are becoming victims of the violence,” he said.
As well as his pleas for peace, Rutte has made some comments that have been met with criticism. Both in his statement and on social media he condemned rocket fire on Israel. He stated that Israel has a right to protect itself.
“I am very concerned about the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza. It is unacceptable for Hamas to randomly fire rockets at the civilian population. The Netherlands supports Israel’s right to self-defence, within the limits of international law and proportionality,” the Prime Minister said in the tweet. He faced an immediate backlash claiming that his tweet was one-sided.
Ik ben zeer bezorgd over het aanhoudende geweld in Israël en Gaza. Het is onacceptabel dat Hamas willekeurig raketten op de burgerbevolking afvuurt. Nederland steunt het recht van Israël op zelfverdediging, binnen de grenzen van het internationaal recht en proportionaliteit.
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) May 14, 2021
In his statement yesterday, he also expressed concerns over the situation in the West Bank. He urged Palestinian families who are threatened with deportation to stay in their homes. He also called for peace in sacred sites.
What do you think about the Dutch response to the events in Gaza? Tell us in the comments!
Feature Image: Yousef Salahmoud/Unsplash