Homes in Amsterdam increasingly targeted in attacks
Homes in Amsterdam have been subject to increasing explosive or shooting attacks in the past several years. Sometimes, the attacks are meant to drive people from their houses in retaliation –– and in certain cases, this plan has worked, reports Het Parool.
This year, the tally stands at 35 attacks on Amsterdam homes. In contrast, 42 buildings were attacked in the whole of 2021, and there were 47 instances in 2020. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, there were 21 incidents in 2019. The causes have ranged from harassment of LGBTQ people to vindictive exes to criminal conflicts.
“I had only been sitting for a minute when I heard a huge bang," said 74-year-old Charles Rijks, a resident of Comeniusstraat where an explosive went off in May. "All the windows popped out and I even felt a pressure wave come over me."
He told Het Parool that many of his neighbors gathered outside in shock to see what had happened. Some neighbors didn't return to sleep in their homes for several nights. One likened the aftermath to a "war zone.”
The Amsterdam police told Het Parool that the uptick in such incidents could be due to an increase in criminal behavior. “This increase fits in with a general trend of increasing hardening and ruthlessness among criminals and criminal groups," said a police spokesperson.
But there is also a sinister strategy behind at least some attacks. The mayor of a city has the authority to close a house if repeated attacks on it cause problems for the entire neighborhood. Attackers sometimes use this to their advantage, Het Parool reports.
One family in Amsterdam Nieuw-West was driven out of their home in just such a way. Multiple attacks on their house with fireworks bombs and a Molotov cocktail created unrest in the neighborhood. A sign was left on their door by the attackers, who were connected to the daughter’s ex-boyfriend: “We will continue until the house is closed by the mayor.”
Eventually, the mayor closed their home and the family was forced to move. “Now the wish of the perpetrators has been granted,” said lawyer Carmen Willekes.
“I know that perpetrators do this because they know that the consequences for their target are very annoying,” a youth worker from Nieuw-West told Het Parool. “Victims get into a lot of trouble with the police and with their neighbors. Either way, it makes a mess. And that is exactly what they want.”
The increase can also be seen in other cities. In Rotterdam, homes and commercial buildings alike have been targeted by people with explosives in recent years. This also happens in The Hague and Utrecht.