08 May 2024, 09:34
Update : 08 May 2024, 10:01

Europe student Gaza protests spread, sparking clashes, arrests

AMSTERDAM, May 8, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Protests by students demanding
universities sever ties with Israel over the Gaza war spread across western
Europe on Tuesday, sparking clashes and dozens of fresh arrests.

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 punishing assault
on Gaza.

Several hundred protesters resumed a demonstration around the University of
Amsterdam campus, where police the previous night were filmed baton-charging
them and smashing up their tents after they refused to leave the grounds.

As protests resumed on Tuesday night, demonstrators erected barriers to
access routes watched over by a heavy police deployment.

Police said in a statement that a total of 169 people had been arrested when
officers broke up Monday night's protests.

All had been released apart from two still in custody on suspicion of public
disorder offences.

Violence had briefly erupted Monday when a small group of counter-protesters
wielding flares stormed the main protest.

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

- Protests in Germany -

In the eastern German city of Leipzig, the university said in a statement
that 50 to 60 people occupied a lecture hall on Tuesday, 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 institution called in the police in the afternoon, and filed a criminal

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 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

- France, Switzerland, Austria -

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

Security forces moved in to allow other students to take their exams and made
two arrests, according to Paris prosecutors. The university said exams
proceeded without incident.

Police have intervened 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

At the nearby Sorbonne university building, police late Tuesday moved to
eject about 100 students who had occupied an amphitheatre and made 88
arrests, police sources said.

In Switzerland, protests spread to three universities in Lausanne, Geneva and

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

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

The war in the Gaza Strip was sparked by an unprecedented October 7 attack on
Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of more
than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli
official figures.

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

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