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WorldAsiaIn European countries... clashes and arrests as student protests in solidarity with Gaza expand

In European countries… clashes and arrests as student protests in solidarity with Gaza expand

– Published on:

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

Students at various European universities continued their protest, inspired by the ongoing demonstrations at American universities, by holding sit-ins on university campuses and trying to close university buildings, to demand an end to the partnership with Israeli institutions due to the war in Gaza, according to what the British newspaper The Guardian reported.


Dutch police said they arrested 169 people on Monday evening when they broke up a sit-in at the University of Amsterdam. Police were filmed attacking protesters with batons and destroying their tents after they refused to leave the campus.

Before police intervened, violence also broke out briefly after a small group of opposition demonstrators stormed the main protest, carrying smoke bombs.

Several hundred demonstrators demanding a ceasefire in the besieged Strip resumed the demonstration on Tuesday evening around the university campus, setting up barriers on access roads amid a heavy police presence.

About 50 demonstrators also protested on Tuesday outside the library at Utrecht University and a few dozen at Delft Technical University, according to local news agency ANB.

“We are here to demand that this university put an end to its complicity in genocide,” one of the organizers of the movement told the Dutch News Agency.

The University of Amsterdam said in a statement that it has exchange programs with three Israeli universities, and that Israeli researchers or companies are participating in eight European research projects to which the university also contributes.

She said that the university “does not want to contribute to the war in any way, nor does it want to participate in educational exchanges of a military nature.”


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

According to the university, the demonstrators barricaded the doors of the lecture hall from the inside and set up tents in the courtyard.

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

Police said that a pro-Israel counter-demonstration also took place in the area, in which about 40 people participated.

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

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

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

The university reported that property damage was caused, while classes were suspended in some buildings on Wednesday. Berlin police said they made some arrests on charges of incitement to hatred and trespassing.

The university’s president, Gunter Ziegler, said in a statement, “This type of protest does not focus on dialogue,” considering that a sit-in in the building is “unacceptable.”


In Paris, the police intervened twice, on Tuesday, at the prestigious Sionis Po University in Paris to disperse about 20 students who barricaded themselves in the main hall of the university.

Police moved to allow other students to take their exams and arrested two, according to Paris prosecutors.
The university said that exams were able to go ahead without any incident.

Police intervened several times last week at Sciences Po, as demonstrators demanded that the university reveal its partnerships with Israeli institutions. The university reported that 13 students are on hunger strike.

Police sources said that security forces moved on Tuesday evening to the nearby Sorbonne University building to remove about 100 students who occupied a stadium for two hours in protest against Gaza.

A first-year student who refused to reveal her name confirmed that the sit-in comes to emphasize the demands that have been raised at Sciences Po institutes in Paris for several weeks, especially an investigation into partnerships with Israeli universities and “stopping the repression of students who move and stopping the sanctions.”


In Switzerland, the pro-Palestinian student movement gained momentum on campuses Tuesday, with sit-ins in buildings in Lausanne, Zurich and Geneva.

The University of Lausanne said in a statement that it “sees that there is no reason to stop these relations” with Israeli universities, as the protesters are demanding.

Students at the University of Lausanne were the first to launch the movement by staging a sit-in in the hall of a building on Thursday evening, demanding in particular an end to cooperation with Israeli universities. The number of students was estimated at hundreds on Monday evening.

For its part, the university said in a statement that “there is no reason to sever these relations.”

An Agence France-Presse correspondent reported that the movement extended on Tuesday to the Federal School of Applied Sciences in Lausanne, where a group of pro-Palestinian students announced that they had decided to sit peacefully in the institution’s courtyard. A university spokesman told AFP that the number of students is estimated at dozens.

The students are calling for an “academic boycott” of Israeli institutions, a ceasefire in Gaza, a resumption of funding for UNRWA, and an end to “occupation and apartheid,” they wrote in a statement Monday.

The School of Applied Sciences in Zurich also witnessed a sit-in at the entrance of the institute shortly before midday on Tuesday.

The demonstrators chanted, “Free Palestine,” and placed a poster on the ground that read, “No technology for genocide,” before the police dispersed them, according to the Swiss news agency, Keystone ATS.

In Geneva, members of a coordination supporting the Palestinians staged a sit-in at the university at noon, according to the same source.

Many Palestinian flags were raised on all floors of the building, in addition to banners reading “Free Palestine, Stop Genocide” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.”

In a letter to the university’s presidency, the coalition requested in particular the granting of scholarships to Palestinian students and “the immediate end of ties between the University of Geneva and Israeli universities.”

Austria and other countries

In Austria, dozens of demonstrators have been holding a sit-in on the University of Vienna campus, setting up tents and raising banners since late Thursday.

More than 100 students also occupied Ghent University in Belgium, in a climate characterized by protests, and they want to extend it until Wednesday.

Camps and protests have also been held at universities in other European countries in recent weeks, including Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Clashes also broke out between police and demonstrators during a pro-Palestinian march in central Athens on Tuesday.

More than 300 people carried Palestinian flags and banners reading, “Hands off Rafah!” and gathered outside the parliament building in the Greek capital.

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

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Kiranpreet Kaur
Kiranpreet Kaur
Editor at The Eastern Herald. Writes about Politics, Militancy, Business, Fashion, Sports and Bollywood.

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