Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte on Sunday issued a statement saying that the Netherlands “supports Israel in calling for an immediate end to violence by terror organisation Hamas”.
“Israel has every right to defend itself,” Rutte said in the statement published on social media. “Our thoughts are with everyone touched by this terrible violence. Together with many others, all over the world, we call for the immediate release of the innocent hostages.”
Rutte said that the Netherlands is keeping a close eye on the situation to assess the impact on Dutch nationals who are in the country. The government is also “extra alert” about the safety of people in the Netherlands, particularly within the Jewish community, he said.
“The National Security Council will meet to discuss the situation,” Rutte said. ”And later in the week, a cabinet delegation will hold talks with representatives of the Jewish community.”
Amsterdam city council will fly the Israeli flag from its offices on Monday as a “support to the people of Israel and Amsterdammers with friends and family in Israel who are living in fear and uncertainty,” mayor Femke Halsema said on Sunday, following calls for action from some councillors.
The council is shocked by the terrible violence used by Hamas against innocent people,” the mayor’s statement said. In addition, the council “’sympathises deeply with innocent victims on the Palestinian side”, the statement said.
In Rotterdam, there was a small demonstration in support of Palestinians in the city centre on Sunday afternoon. According to the AD, several hundred people took part.
The death toll in Israel has topped 600 and at least 100 people have been taken hostage by Hamas fighters since they launched a surprise on communities in the south of the country on Saturday, the Guardian reported. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel was embarking on a “long and difficult war”.
According to Reuters, quoting an Israeli military spokesman, Israel now says it has hit 800 Hamas targets in Gaza and hundreds of Hamas fighters have been killed.
The Dutch foreign ministry has warned Dutch nationals to avoid all travel to Israel because of the likelihood of a further escalation of the conflict. In particular, the code red border areas near Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt must be avoided, the statement said.
Several hundred Dutch nationals are currently holidaying in Israel and tour operators are currently assessing whether or not they should be brought home. Much depends on the available flights. Transavia, KLM and Easyjet have cancelled all flights between Israel and the Netherlands.