120 arrested as police break up pro-Palestinian encampment at Amsterdam University

Dutch police say demonstration ‘took on a violent nature’ with some students hurling stones and fireworks at officers as they cleared barricades and tents

Footage shows anti-Israel protesters attacking students at the Amsterdam University campus, May 2024. (Social media/X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Police forcibly broke up a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel encampment at the University of Amsterdam on Tuesday, arresting more than 120 and dismantling barricades erected by protesters inspired by similar demonstrations on campuses around the world.

Images on public broadcaster NOS showed police baton-charging protesters and smashing up tents at around 4 a.m. (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.

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 demonstration, said police.

Shahaf Alon, an Israeli student at the university, told Israel’s Channel 12 News that Israelis and Jews were also targeted. He also said he frequently encountered calls for “Intifada” on campus, and for “Zionists” to be removed from the campus.

On Tuesday morning, police began releasing some of those arrested but dozens were still in custody.

The protesters have urged the university to break ties with Israel because of its military offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

“We are not just here to camp for two days. We are here to demand that this university puts an end to its complicity in the genocide,” one of the demonstration’s organizers told Dutch news agency ANP on Monday.

The university has published a list of its collaborations with Israel, mainly student exchanges with universities 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 site.

Pro-Palestinian students occupy the Amsterdam University campus on May 6, 2024 (Nick Gammon / AFP)

The Amsterdam protest followed similar actions at universities around the world, notably at Columbia in the United States, which has been forced to cancel its main graduation ceremony. Some Jewish students say the demonstrations across the US have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.

War erupted on October 7 when the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a massive cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people. The approximately 3,000 attackers also abducted 252 people and took them as hostages to the Gaza Strip.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza to destroy Hamas, topple its regime, and free the hostages of whom 128 remain in captivity.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says that more than 34,500 Palestinians have been killed in the subsequent war in the Strip, but the number cannot be independently verified and is believed to include both Hamas fighters and civilians, some of whom were killed as a consequence of the terror group’s own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 13,000 fighters in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 who were killed inside Israel on and immediately following October 7. The army also says 267 soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the ground operation.

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