Connect with us


Clashes and arrests as pro-Palestinian protests spread across European campuses



Student protests demanding that universities sever ties with Israel over the Gaza war have spread across Europe, sparking clashes and arrests as new demonstrations broke out in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria.

Students at various European universities, inspired by ongoing demonstrations at US campuses, have been occupying halls and facilities, demanding an end to partnerships with Israeli institutions because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Early on Tuesday, Israel launched a major military offensive against Hamas forces in Rafah, the only remaining city in Gaza that has not been razed in the Israeli campaign and where 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter.

Dutch police said 169 people had been arrested on Monday evening when they broke up an encampment at the University of Amsterdam. Police were filmed baton-charging protesters and smashing up their tents after they refused to leave the campus.

Before the police intervention, violence also erupted briefly when a small group of counter-protesters wielding flares stormed the main protest.

Several hundred protesters calling for a ceasefire resumed the demonstration on Tuesday evening around the university campus, erecting barriers to access routes amid a heavy police presence.

About 50 demonstrators were also protesting on Tuesday outside the library in Utrecht University and a few dozen at the Technical University of Delft, according to local news agency ANP.

Police officers detain a protester as they try to dismantle a pro-Palestine protest camp at the Free University of Berlin on Tuesday. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

In the eastern German city of Leipzig, the university said in a statement that 50 to 60 people occupied a lecture hall on Tuesday afternoon, waving banners that read: “University occupation against genocide”.

Protesters barricaded the lecture hall doors from the inside and erected tents in the courtyard, according to the university.

The university called in the police in the afternoon, and filed a criminal complaint.

A pro-Israeli counter-protest also took place in the area, involving about 40 people, police said.

Criminal proceedings have been initiated against 13 people who were in the lecture hall on suspicion of trespassing. No arrests have been made so far.

Earlier, at Berlin’s Free University, police cleared a demonstration after up to 80 people erected a protest camp in a courtyard of the campus. The protesters, some of whom wore the keffiyeh scarf that has long been a symbol of the Palestinian cause, sat in front of tents and waved banners.

They later tried to enter rooms and lecture halls and occupy them, according to the university, which said it then called in the police to clear the protest.

The university said property was damaged while classes in some buildings were suspended for the day. Berlin police said they made some arrests for incitement to hatred and trespassing.

In Paris, police on Tuesday twice intervened at Paris’s prestigious Sciences Po university to disperse about 20 students who had barricaded themselves in the university’s main hall.

Police moved in to allow other students to take their exams and made two arrests, according to Paris prosecutors. The university said the exams were able to proceed without incident.

Police drag a protester away from the entrance to the Sciences Po university in Paris on Tuesday. Photograph: Poitout Florian/ABACA/REX/Shutterstock

Police have intervened several times over the past week at Sciences Po, where protesters are demanding the university reveal its partnerships with Israeli institutions. Thirteen students are on a hunger strike, according to the university.

At the nearby Sorbonne university building, police moved on Tuesday evening to eject about a hundred students who had occupied an amphitheatre for two hours to protest about Gaza, police sources said.

In Switzerland, protests on Tuesday spread to three universities in Lausanne Geneva and Zurich.

The University of Lausanne said in a statement that it “considers that there is no reason to cease these relations” with Israeli universities, as protesters demand.

In Austria, dozens of protesters have been camped on the campus of Vienna University, putting up tents and stringing up banners since late on Thursday.

More than 100 students were also occupying Ghent University, in Belgium, in both a climate and a Gaza protest that they want to prolong until Wednesday.

Encampments have also been set up and protests taken place at universities in other European countries over the past weeks including Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Clashes also broke out between police and protesters during a pro-Palestinian rally in central Athens on Tuesday. More than 300 people carrying Palestinian flags and banners reading “Hands off Rafah!” rallied outside the parliament building in the Greek capital.

“We are here in solidarity and we will respond any time the Palestinians call [for solidarity],” said protester Antonis Davanellos, a 60-year-old pensioner.

The war in the Gaza Strip was sparked by an unprecedented 7 October attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory offensive that has killed at least 34,789 people in Gaza, mostly women and children and injured tens of thousands more, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report

Continue Reading