The Jewish community fears an upsurge in anti-Semitic acts in Belgium following the Hamas attacks against Israel. Since Saturday, the alert level has been raised around schools and places of worship.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo expressed his support for the victims of violence and terror in Israel, describing the Hamas terrorist attack as “intolerable.”
“This is barbarism,” he said, after meeting Thursday with representatives of the Jewish community. Other ministers were also present at the meeting, including Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne and Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities Marie-Colline Leroy.
”In the name of our country, I want to express all my support to all the citizens of Israel. ”This blind and cowardly violence suddenly closes the door on any prospect of peace and security throughout the region,” said De Croo.
“In our country, there will be no tolerance of incitement to hatred, violence or the glorification of violence”, De Croo said.
During the meeting, the security of the Jewish community was discussed. The Jewish community fears an upsurge in anti-Semitic acts in Belgium. Since Saturday, the alert level has been raised around schools and places of worship. Security is also constantly monitored by the coordinating body of the threat analysis (Ocam). At this stage, however, there is no question of the military being mobilized on the streets.
”Antisemitism and intolerance have no place here. The Jewish community is a cornerstone of Belgian society,” said Prime Minister De Croo.
“A contact number within the national crisis center will also be opened for any Jewish person wishing to ask for help,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.
Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said that two Jewish people had been attacked on Tuesday evening in Ypres (West Flanders). The perpetrators were identified on video surveillance cameras. “This case will be dealt with as a priority”, he said.
Prior to the meeting with the Prime Minister, Regina Sluszny, a Holocaust survivor and co-chair of the Antwerp-based Forum of Flemish Jewish Organizations, stressed that words were not enough, and that she expected action from the government.
She later said she was satisfied with the outcome of the consultation.
Some 35,000 Jews live in the country, mainly in Brussels and Antwerp.
The 13,000 or so Belgian nationals living in Israel could be offered the possibility of being repatriated to Belgium in the next few hours if they wish. This measure, agreed during the meeting with the Jewish representatives, is still to be fine-tuned.
The government is in contact with Brussels Airlines on this subject.