Denmark deploying troops to protect Jewish sites, as antisemitism rises

Defense ministry warns of ‘serious’ threat of terrorism, says police resources have been stretched thin by public response to Israel’s war against Hamas

Danish soldiers patrol the area of the port of Aarhus, Denmark where military vehicles of the US army are parked, on January 16, 2023. (Sergei Gapon/AFP)
Danish soldiers patrol the area of the port of Aarhus, Denmark where military vehicles of the US army are parked, on January 16, 2023. (Sergei Gapon/AFP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark will deploy army units to protect Jewish and Israeli sites in Copenhagen in response to an increase in antisemitism in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught and the subsequent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, government officials said Sunday.

“The conflict in the Middle East has led to an absolutely unacceptable increase in antisemitism and insecurity for Jews in Denmark,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said.

“We’re in a situation where the terrorist threat hanging over Denmark is serious.”

The defense ministry said the Gaza conflict was taking a heavy toll on police resources, with several protests being held at a time when Quran burnings by anti-immigrant or anti-extremist groups have stoked tensions.

“In this context… armed forces will support the surveillance of Jewish and Israeli sites in Copenhagen,” such as synagogues or the Israeli embassy, it said.

The deployment will begin on December 6.

Supporters of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party burn the effigy of Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Karachi on July 23, 2023, as they protest against the burning of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP)

The country counts an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 Jews, according to the independent Utrikespolitiska Research Institute.

Contacted by AFP, the defense ministry declined to say if similar protective measures would be taken for Muslim sites in the country.

Last month, parliament began debating a bill to ban desecration of the Quran and other religious symbols after a string of incidents sparked angry protests in Muslim countries.

The government announced the plans for the ban on Koran burnings after warning they could pose a security risk.

The ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza was triggered on October 7 when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst through the border into southern Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing some 240 hostages.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by the terror group since 2007 and launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip has said that more than 15,500 people have been killed since October 7, most of them civilians. However, these numbers cannot be verified by an independent body, and are believed to include members of Hamas and other terror groups, as well as those killed by misfired rockets launched by Gazan terror groups.

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