Europe student Gaza protests spread as police crackdown on protesters

AFP , Tuesday 7 May 2024

Student protests to demand that universities break ties with Israel over the Gaza war spread across Europe on Tuesday, with police cracking down on protests in the Netherlands, Germany, and France.

Students gather for a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. AP


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

At the University of Amsterdam, images on public broadcaster NOS showed police baton-charging protesters and smashing up tents at around 4:00 am (0200 GMT), after they refused to leave the campus.



At Berlin's Free University, police also cleared a demonstration after up to 80 people set up a protest camp in a courtyard of the campus early Tuesday.

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.

Videos on social media showed police officers cracking down on protesters.



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.

France, Switzerland demos

In Paris, police Tuesday twice intervened at Paris's prestigious Sciences Po university to disperse about 20 students who had occupied 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 have carried out crackdowns several times over the past week at Sciences Po, where protesters are demanding the university reveal its partnerships with Israeli institutions. Some 13 students are on a hunger strike, according to the university.



In Switzerland, protests on Tuesday spread to three universities across the country.

The University of Lausanne (UNIL) was the first to mobilise, with several hundred students occupying a hall Thursday evening to demand an end to partnerships with Israeli universities.

UNIL responded in a statement that it "considers that there is no reason to cease these relations".



On Tuesday, the movement spread to the EPFL university in Lausanne, where a group of students occupied the university's hall before dispersing in the afternoon, and to University of Geneva, where students took over a hall with sofas, chairs and tables around midday.

Tens of students protested in the entrance hall of the ETH Zurich shortly before midday on Tuesday, shouting "Free Palestine" and rolling a poster onto the floor that said "no Tech for Genocide" before being removed by police, according to news agency Keystone-ATS.

In Amsterdam, violence briefly erupted on Monday evening when a small group of counter-protesters wielding flares stormed the main protest.

Demonstrators blocked off some roads to the university, after which police broke up the protest to enable access by emergency services.

Some students hurled stones and fireworks at the officers when they broke up the demo, said police, and more than 120 were arrested.

On Tuesday morning, police began releasing some of those arrested but dozens were still in custody.

University publishes Israel ties

The University of Amsterdam has published a list of its collaborations with Israel, mainly student exchanges and research projects that involve Israeli academics.

The university "will under no circumstances contribute to warfare in any way, and we also do not intend to participate in exchanges in the field of military-related education", it said on its website.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 34,789 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Israel has also imposed a siege on Gaza closing many land crossings into the Palestinian territory and blocking humanitarian aid to displaced people in Gaza.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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