Rens Reijnierse, a lawmaker from the southern city of Vlissingen, posted pictures of the kites last week on Twitter.
“Kites at Pool Beach. Beautiful autumn day in Vlissingen. No wind so the kites won’t fly but the project for Palestine still succeeded,” he wrote.
The lawmaker’s tweet triggered sharp rebuke from critics online and beyond, prompting Reijnierse to delete the message and apologize, according to the Omroep Zeeland regional broadcaster.
One of the kites created by the ruimteCAESUUR cooperative of artists featured a swastika in green, the official color of Hamas. Another showed Nazi Germany’s Imperial Eagle symbol carrying the copyright symbol, which the cooperative’s founder, Hans Overvliet, said is meant to protest the “extreme right’s appropriation of symbols.”
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Other kites featured the Palestinian flag; one also had the image of a rocket resembling Hamas’ Qassam missile.
Some 20 artists participated in creating the kites, including three from Gaza and one from Pakistan.
Beyond the imagery on some of the kites, some critics said that the premise of the project was problematic because of how Palestinians use kites to set fire to fields and forests in Israel.
“The kite campaign is inappropriate in light of the terror campaign that various groups in Gaza have implemented for the past seven months,” the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, wrote in a statement Tuesday.
Overvliet said the kite initiative was not in support of fire starters but in solidarity with the use in previous years of kites in Gaza as peaceful means of protest. He nonetheless canceled a second kite event that was planned with the same artworks this week, explaining he “doesn’t have the energy” to explain the symbols they carry, the PZC news site reported.