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Israel's Herzog opens Holocaust museum in Amsterdam

1 min

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is attending the opening of the National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam on Sunday amid pro-Palestinian protests demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog walks near the Portuguese Synagogue on the day of the opening of the National Holocaust Museum, in Amsterdam, March 10, 2024. Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is attending the opening of the National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam on Sunday amid pro-Palestinian protests demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

Protesters were chanting "Never again is now" and "Ceasefire now" at a square close to the museum, while holding Palestinian flags and signs that said "Jews against genocide" and "The grandchild of a holocaust survivor says: Stop Gaza Holocaust".

Health officials in Gaza say nearly 31,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its offensive there in response to an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters on southern Israel, in which some 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Human rights group Amnesty International put up detour signs around the museum to direct Herzog to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

A spokesperson for the president declined comment.

Dutch Jewish anti-zionist organisation Erev Rave, which organised the protest with the Dutch Palestinian Community and Socialists International, said that while it honours the memory of Holocaust victims, it could not stand by while the war in Gaza continued.

Faced with international criticism of its campaign, Israel has been stressing that it did not start the war and was making all efforts to minimize civilian casualties, blaming Hamas for fighting in densely populated areas.

Some of Herzog's remarks have been cited by South Africa in its International Court of Justice lawsuit against Israel. He has said that not only militants but "an entire nation" was responsible for the Oct. 7 attack and that Israel will fight "until we break their backbone".

Herzog has said his comments were misrepresented, and only part of what he said was cited in order to build a case against Israel in the ICJ, which after discussing told Israel to take action to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip but stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Herzog, before becoming president, which is a largely ceremonial role, used to head Israel's Labor party, which historically has been a advocate for making peace with Palestinians.

The museum told media that it had invited Herzog before the Hamas attack and Israel's subsequent offensive in Gaza.

It said in a statement it recognised that Herzog's attendance raised questions but added that he represented the homeland of Dutch Holocaust survivors who emigrated to Israel.

Nazi Germany killed six million Jews during World War Two. Modern Israel was founded in 1948 as a safe haven for Jews.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander is set to meet Herzog on Sunday.

Reporting by Piroschka van de Wouw, Hilde Verwij in Amsterdam

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