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Pro-Palestinian protests spread across European Campuses

Inspired by ongoing protests at US campuses, student demonstrations advocating for universities to cut ties with Israel over the Gaza conflict have spread across Europe, resulting in clashes and arrests.

Fresh protests have ignited in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria.

At various European universities, students have taken to occupying halls and facilities, echoing the demand for an end to partnerships with Israeli institutions in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

On Tuesday, Israel initiated a major military offensive against Hamas forces in Rafah, the last remaining city in Gaza that hasn’t been razed in the Israeli campaign, where 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter.

Dutch police reported 169 arrests on Monday evening when they disbanded an encampment at the University of Amsterdam. Videos captured police baton-charging protesters and dismantling their tents after they refused to vacate the campus. Before police intervention, brief violence erupted when a small group of counter-protesters wielding flares confronted the main protest.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters, advocating for a ceasefire, resumed demonstrations around the university campus, setting up barriers amidst a heavy police presence. In Utrecht University, around 50 demonstrators gathered outside the library, while a few dozen protested at the Technical University of Delft, as reported by the local news agency ANP.

In Leipzig, Germany, 50 to 60 individuals occupied a lecture hall, displaying banners reading “University occupation against genocide.” They barricaded doors and erected tents in the courtyard, leading the university to involve the police and file a criminal complaint. A pro-Israeli counter-protest involving about 40 people also occurred in the area.

At Berlin’s Free University, police dispersed a demonstration where up to 80 individuals had erected a protest camp. Protesters, some wearing keffiyeh scarves, attempted to occupy rooms and lecture halls, leading to property damage and class suspensions. Police made arrests for incitement to hatred and trespassing.

In Paris, police intervened twice at Sciences Po university to disperse approximately 20 students who barricaded themselves in the main hall. Two arrests were made, and exams proceeded without disruption. Clashes between police and protesters also occurred at the Sorbonne.

Protests spread to three universities in Lausanne, Geneva, and Zurich in Switzerland. The University of Lausanne stated it sees no reason to end its relations with Israeli universities, despite protesters’ demands.

In Austria, dozens of protesters camped on Vienna University’s campus, while more than 100 students occupied Ghent University in Belgium, combining climate and Gaza protests.

Similar encampments and protests have occurred at universities in Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and the UK over recent weeks.

In Athens, clashes broke out between police and protesters during a pro-Palestinian rally outside the parliament building. More than 300 people participated, demonstrating solidarity with Palestinians.

The Gaza conflict was triggered by an attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, resulting in around 1,200 deaths, mostly civilians. Israel launched a retaliatory offensive, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries in Gaza.


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