Dutch scale down World War II remembrance to keep ceremony safe

Nicaragua asks World Court to order Germany to halt military arms exports to Israel, in The Hague

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The city of Amsterdam on Tuesday said it would severely restrict attendance to the annual national World War II remembrance on May 4, in a bid to keep the ceremony safe and to curb potential disturbances amid tensions over the war in Gaza.

The war between Israel and Hamas and heightened tensions throughout the Middle East have raised the risk of protests and of "spontaneous actions" disturbing the ceremony, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said.

Measures were therefore needed to make sure the ceremony would remain "dignified, controlled and safe", organisers said.

At the March opening of a Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, pro-Palestinian protesters who were opposed to Israel's military campaign in Gaza set off fireworks and booed Israeli President Isaac Herzog as he arrived at the museum.

Hundreds of thousands gather at Dam square and other places throughout the Netherlands on May 4 every year to hold two minutes of silence at 8:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) to commemorate the victims of World War II.

In the hope of preventing disturbances on Saturday, total capacity at the central Dam square will be limited to 10,000 - roughly half the normal attendance at the ceremony, the city said.

People who want to attend will have to make a reservation upfront and will not be allowed to bring any signs, flags or sound equipment.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Bernadette Baum)