At midnight the Netherlands rang in 2020 with firework shows in Rotterdam and The Hague, where the thick fog cleared just in time. While Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said he feared a "wild west party" this New Year's, there were no major incidents. There were, however, a very large number of car fires, especially in The Hague region, and multiple incidents of aid workers and first responders being attacked or harassed, according to various Dutch media.
Multiple neighborhoods in The Hague were restless on Monday night, the night before New Year's Eve. The police arrested a total of 19 people, on suspicion of throwing fireworks and arson, among other things, NOS reports.
A party was held on Dr. De Visserplein, organized by the volunteers behind the canceled New Year's bonfire on Scheveningen beach. When the party was over, multiple fires were set in the area and the police had to intervene. At around midnight, the police ordered everyone to leave the street and arrested those who refused.
Six people accused of were arrested Monday morning in The Hague, including one who was accused of setting off a heavy firework bomb underneath a police van. One of the seven police officers inside the van suffered permanent hearing damage from the December 3 explosion, police said on Monday.
The year 2019 was a busy one for the Netherlands, with elections and strikes, multiple high profile murders and shootings, and a summer full of heat records, severe storms and poisonous caterpillars. Here follows a review of the top ten stories of this year.
Instead of the annual New Year's bonfire on Scheveningen beach, the organizers will hold a march by torchlight through the city on Saturday. The march will start on Sint Aldegondeplein and end on the beach, where participants can have a drink, the organizers said on Facebook.
"We hope that the streets of Scheveningen will turn into a positive sea of flames," organization Vreugdevuur Scheveningen said.
The police released a video of an incident in the Duindorp neighborhood of The Hague on December 3rd. Someone in a group of young people threw a firework bomb under a police van, which was in the area due to unrest after the annual New Year's bonfire was canceled. The police are looking for the perpetrators.
The blast severely damaged the police van. Fortunately, none of the seven police officers inside were injured, though some did report issues with their ears afterwards.
A restless night was expected in The Hague on Tuesday after the municipality announced that it will not grant permits for the New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Duindorp and Scheveningen, because the organizers could not meet the requirements. In Duindorp, where riot police had to intervene for three nights before Tuesday, the atmosphere was relatively calm.
For the third night in a row, the Duindorp neighborhood of The Hague was restless. Some 13 people were arrested for throwing stones, public violence and insult, a police spokesperson said to NU.nl. Footage on social media shows fireworks exploding near riot police officers. Calm returned around midnight.
The riot police were deployed to the Duindorp neighborhood of The Hague on Sunday night. The neighborhood was restless until around midnight, with waste bins being set on fire and a bus stop being vandalized. This was the second night of unrest in Duindorp, NOS reports.
The organization behind the New Year's bonfire on the Duindorp beach in The Hague decided to pull the plug on the event. They no longer have any faith in the municipality of The Hague, the organizers announced on Friday, NU.nl reports.
On Thursday evening the municipality of The Hague met with the organizations behind the annual bonfires on the beaches of Duindorp and Scheveningen. The municipality said that a final decision on whether the events would be granted permits would be made on December 3rd.
The New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Sceveningen and Duindorp in The Hague will likely not happen in the coming years because there is "no evidence of a demonstrably professional organization", interim mayor Johan Remkes said. The organizers of the two annual bonfires are also unable to get insurance - no one wants to insure them after last year's rain of sparks, RTL Nieuws reports.
The fire department advised that the New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp can be no larger than 10 meters by 10 meters. And the builders of the bonfires will have to hold to that recommendation, interim The Hague mayor Johan Remkes said at his first council meeting on Thursday. "It's that or nothing", he said, NOS reports.
The Commissioner of the King in Zuid Holland, Jaap Smit, will announce who will be acting mayor of The Hague within a few days. The city is looking for an interim mayor, because Pauline Krikke announced her resignation as mayor with immediate effect on Sunday.
A week of scandal in Den Haag has led the city's mayor to tender her resignation on Sunday. Pauline Krikke, of conservative party VVD, was appointed to the job and first took office on March 17, 2017, and previously spent 12 years as the mayor of Arnhem and seven years on Amsterdam's city council
The organization of New Year's bonfires on the beaches in Scheveningen and Duindorp must change fundamentally, because the builders of the bonfires do not comply with agreements made with the municipality of The Hague, the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) said in a report. The OVV investigated the bonfires tradition after the Scheveningen bonfire got out of hand this past New Year's.
Bonfires lit in the Netherlands throughout the year are responsible for 6 percent of the annual emissions of PAH, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - harmful substances that are released when organic material is burned, public health institute RIVM said on Wednesday. The emission of PAH in the country has fallen by two thirds over the past 30 years, NU.nl reports.
Officials of the municipality of The Hague were threatened by builders of traditional bonfires in the run-up to New Year's, according to minutes of a meeting released on Thursday. The builders of the Scheveningen and Duindorp bonfires also threatened each other, the municipality's Security director said during a meeting with the municipality, the police and Public Prosecutor on December 31st, NU.nl reports.
The builders of the bonfire in Scheveningen was surprised by the municipality of The Hague releasing the covenant regarding the New Year's bonfires on Tuesday. According to the builders, they did not know that mayor Pauline Krikke would release the covenant, and also were not aware of the content thereof, AD reports.
The municipality of The Hague failed to live up to its own agreements for building New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Duindorp and Scheveningen, according to the covenant between the municipality, police, bonfire builders and local safety offices, which was published on Tuesday. The covenant states that if the bonfire towers exceed the maximum height, action must be taken. But nothing was done when this happened, NU.nl reports.
Mayor Pauline Krikke of The Hague was convinced that the New Year's bonfires on the Scheveningen and Duindorp beaches "could safely burn", she said to her city council on Wednesday. A sea of sparks blown from the Scheveningen bonfire caused multiple fires in Scheveningen over New Year's.
The Dutch Safety Board is launching an investigation into the bonfires in The Hague over New Year's, at the request of Hague mayor Pauline Krikke. This past New Year's a strong wind blew sparks from the Scheveningen bonfire over the city, causing multiple fires, NOS reports.
The municipality of The Hague is calling on the public to send in photos or video footage of the New Year's bonfire on Scheveningen beach and the clouds of sparks and ash it caused. The footage will be used in the investigation into the rain of sparks that caused multiple fires in Scheveningen over New Year's, NOS reports.
Multiple fires started in buildings and the dunes in Scheveningen after the wind blew sparks from the New Year's bonfires over the town. The fire department has the fires under control, NU.nl reports.
Photos and videos on social media show whirlwinds with sparks in them. As the wind was blowing from the beach towards Scheveningen, this caused a dangerous situation.
This year Scheveningen plans to beat Duindorp with the biggest New Year's bonfire. The Scheveningen crowd has been working hard since Saturday stacking wooden pallets for their bonfire