09 May 2024, 08:16

Riot police, protesters clash at Amsterdam Gaza demo

THE HAGUE, May 9, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Dutch riot police clashed on Wednesday with pro-Palestinian protesters as officers moved in to clear barricades at the University of Amsterdam, scene of upheaval since Monday.

Police said around midnight (2200 GMT) that they had arrested 32 people for "violence, destruction, assault and incitement" at the university and on a major thoroughfare in the centre of the Dutch capital.

Local television images showed dozens of police dressed in riot gear exchanging blows with a group of protesters as officers cleared out an area in front of the Binnengasthuis building in Amsterdam's city centre.

Police said the protesters then blocked a major local road called the Rokin where violence also broke out, adding demonstrators "threw ammonia at riot police".

Students are demanding that the University of Amsterdam (UvA) sever ties with Israel over the war in Gaza and are inspired by ongoing demonstrations at US campuses.

A little before midnight, Amsterdam police said on X that the situation was "calm" and most of the protesters had left the area.

They had previously said the clearance "operation has been authorised by the mayor" after the UvA laid charges including disturbing the peace and destruction of property.

Images on the local AT5 channel showed police arresting several demonstrators, numbering a few hundred, roughly pulling one off a front-end loader.

Another protester tried to stop a loader before jumping into a canal to evade arrest.

Images also showed police surrounding and dragging away a small but vocal group of protesters remaining on the campus, while a front-end loader was pushing material used to put up the barricades into a canal.

Protesters waved placards saying "Free Palestine" and shouting "Shame on you" at police.

Police say the protesters were not just students, but also included people "who were not affiliated to the university and were deliberately seeking conflict with the police".

Representatives of the protesters and UvA management were in talks on Wednesday, but protesters told the NOS public broadcaster discussions had led to nothing.

The protests started at the university on Monday. At least 169 people have been arrested.

The Amsterdam city council is due to have an emergency debate about the ongoing demonstrations on Friday.

Protesters were also gathering elsewhere in the Netherlands, including at the Utrecht University campus, reports said.


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