AMSTERDAM: Student protests to demand that universities break ties with Israel over the Gaza war spread across Europe on Tuesday, with police breaking up demonstrations in the Netherlands, Germany, and France.

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.

“The demonstration took on a violent nature because later in the evening massive stones were removed from the ground,” police said in a statement.

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 officers carrying away some 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 barricaded themselves in 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 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 university.

At the nearby Sorbonne university building, police moved on Tuesday evening to eject about a hundred students who had occupied an amphitheatre for two hours to protest about Gaza, police sources said.

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 about a hundred 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 Austria, dozens of people have set up a protest camp on the campus of Vienna University, putting up tents and stringing up banners that read "resistance is international" and "Israel kills, EU joins" since late Thursday. 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 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.

Militants also seized around 250 hostages, with an estimated 128 remaining in Gaza, including 35 the Israeli military says are dead.

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. Israel has also been accused by many groups of blocking humanitarian aid to displaced people in Gaza.

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.


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