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Police send reinforcements to Jewish sites in Brussels and Antwerp

06:52 09/11/2023

Federal police have been called in to help secure Jewish sites in Antwerp and Brussels at the request of Belgium’s interior minister, Annelies Verlinden.

Verlinden has requested that police step up patrols around these sites and Jewish communities, Le Soir reports, in light of the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas.

“The minister has decided to send additional federal police patrols to these two cities,” her office confirmed.

“It is now up to the commissioner-general to work on implementation. The level of threat to Jewish sites has not changed - it is still three on a scale of four.”

The threat has been at this same level for years, Verlinden’s office explained, but a recent analysis by Belgium’s terror threat analysis body Ocam, responsible for counter-terrorism, showed that tensions are expected to increase in light of the current situation in the Middle East.

This recent analysis of the threat is not a specific analysis of Jewish sites, but an overall analysis of the threat for the whole country, produced each month by Ocam.

Ocam does not make recommendations to political or security institutions (police, crisis centres, etc) as to the resources needed to protect a particular site, so it was the minister who determined from the latest analysis that there were signs of increased risks around Jewish sites in Brussels and Antwerp and therefore decided to deploy federal resources.

Until now, Jewish sites in Belgium have only been secured by patrols from local police areas. From now on, in Antwerp and Brussels, these patrols will be reinforced by federal police.

“These are additional human resources, and do not replace those of the local areas,” Verlinden’s office said.

Written by Helen Lyons