Thousands of people took part in a demonstration at the Hague on Tuesday to protest an official visit by the Israeli Prime Minister to the Netherlands.
Demonstrators said Benjamin Netanyahu should be brought to justice for his crimes.
Protesters carried signs that read “Bring Bibi Netanyahu to International Criminal Court” as the Israeli leader arrived in the Netherlands to meet with senior Dutch officials. The protesters initially hoped to demonstrate outside the parliament, but were denied access by authorities.
Chants such as “Free free Palestine, boycott boycott Israel” could also be heard during the demonstration.
“I’m standing here because Netanyahu is visiting the Netherlands. I’m standing in The Hague and we think that rather than him being received by the parliament, he should be put on trial in the Peace Palace of the UN tribunal,” a protester said in English.
Some of the protesters also criticized local authorities for attempting to cancel the anti-Netanyahu gathering.
“This demonstration is not only against Netanyahu, but it’s also for our right to demonstrate, at the places where we want, where it’s happening, because the Zionists, they always get the permission to stand in front of the parliament,” another demonstrator commented.
The rally was originally planned to be staged outside the Dutch parliament building in The Hague downtown, but authorities later did not allow the protesters to proceed.
The demonstration came a day after former Dutch prime minister Dries Van Agt reacted angrily to Netanyahu’s two-day visit to the Netherland, calling on government officials to “send him right away to the International Criminal Court.”
Speaking in an interview with the NPO1 public broadcaster on Monday, Van Agt described the 66-year-old Chairman of Israel’s right-wing Likud political party as a “war criminal,” arguing that the Tel Aviv regime has been committing a crime under the ICC’s Rome Statute.
“The occupation and expansion… building of settlements, of occupied territory, this is according to the Rome Statute, which is… the setup… the statute on which the international criminal court is based, in so many words, a war crime,” he said.
“So why should we receive someone who continues with such things, we could have sent him right away to the International Criminal Court, that would have been better,” the 85-year-old politician and activist, known for his vocal support of the Palestinian cause, the ex-PM pointed out.
The Rome Statute, which went into effect in July 2002, outlines the four grave international crimes, namely crimes of aggression, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The statute forms one of the foundations of The Hague-based International Criminal Court.
Israel signed the treaty in December 2000, but “unsigned” it two years later by means of the US lobby.
One of the primary reasons behind the decision was a clause in the document, which allowed the prosecution of the Israeli regime over war crimes for “transfer of parts of the civilian population of an occupying power into occupied territory.”