Netherlands honors WWII dead amid tight security due to Gaza war

amsterdam — Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte joined around 4,000 people Saturday for the country’s annual World War II remembrance ceremony amid restricted public access and heightened security due to the war in Gaza. 

The ceremony on Amsterdam’s central Dam square, with the traditional two minutes of silence at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) to commemorate the victims of World War II, passed smoothly despite fears that there might be protests. 

Normally some 20,000 people attend the Dam commemoration without having to register. But earlier this week, municipal authorities announced unprecedented security measures to keep the ceremony safe and avoid possible disruptions linked to the Israel-Hamas war. 

At the opening of a Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam in March, pro-Palestinian protesters opposed to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza set off fireworks and booed Israeli President Isaac Herzog as he arrived on a visit. 

Every town and city in the Netherlands holds its own remembrance ceremony on May 4 and tens of thousands of people attend the events. Then on May 5, the Netherlands marks the anniversary of its liberation from Nazi occupation in 1945. 

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