Dublin campus protest ends as college vows to divest from Israeli settlements

University says it will cut ties with Israeli companies operating in ‘occupied Palestinian Territory’; 32 arrested as police clear anti-Israel Amsterdam protest

People walk around the grounds of Trinity College Dublin on March 12, 2020. (Paul Faith / AFP)
People walk around the grounds of Trinity College Dublin on March 12, 2020. (Paul Faith / AFP)

DUBLIN, Ireland — Students at Ireland’s prestigious Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on Wednesday ended a five-day-long protest against Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza after they said their demands were met by the university leadership.

In a statement posted on its website, the university said that “an agreement was reached” after “successful talks between the university’s senior management and the protestors.”

Laszlo Molnarfi, president of the institution’s student union, said TCD’s statement was a “testament to grassroots student-staff power.”

The camp would be brought to an end Wednesday evening, he told public broadcaster RTE.

TCD said that the university “will complete a divestment from investments in Israeli companies that have activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory and appear on the UN blacklist in this regard.”

Student activists began the protest on Friday as a “solidarity encampment with Palestine” echoing similar protests on US campuses.

The university statement, however, appeared to fall short of the protesters demands to completely cut ties with Israel.

Molnarfi on Saturday said that the protest would continue until the university severs any relationships it has with Israel.

Dozens of students pitched tents on one of the main squares at the university and piled benches to block the entrance to a library that houses the world-famous ninth-century gospel manuscript Book of Kells, one of Dublin’s most popular tourist attractions.

Security staff closed the campus gates — which are usually open to the public — during the protest.

“With the encampment and blockade of the Book of Kells removed, plans are being put in place to return to normal university business for staff, students, and members of the public,” TCD said on Wednesday.

Last week the union was fined 214,000 euros ($230,000) by the university for loss of tourist revenue after disruptive protests this year over student fees, rent, and the war in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protests have rocked US campuses for weeks. Critics of the US encampments — from US President Joe Biden to college presidents to Jewish students and leaders — have condemned instances of antisemitism at the protests and reports of Jewish students being harassed.

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters walk from Columbia University down to Hunter College, May 6, 2024, in New York City. (SPENCER PLATT / Getty Images via AFP)

The US campus protests began at Columbia in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza. War erupted on October 7 when the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a massive cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid numerous atrocities. The roughly 3,000 attackers who burst into southern Israel also abducted 252 people of all ages who were taken as hostages to the Gaza Strip.

Vowing to stamp out Hamas and topple its regime in Gaza, Israel launched a military campaign that also aims to free the hostages, of whom 128 remain in captivity, some believed no longer alive.

The student protests have spread to other countries, including France and the Netherlands.

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 center 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 center.

Dutch Police officers arrest a demonstrator at the Binnengasthuis grounds of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), supporting pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel students occupying UvA, in Amsterdam on May 8, 2024. (Ramon van Flymen / AFP)

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 the 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 authorized 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.

Dutch Police officers try to push demonstrators away from the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, gathered to support pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel students occupying UvA, in Amsterdam on May 8, 2024. (Ramon van Flymen / AFP)

Protesters waved placards saying “Free Palestine” and shouted “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.

At least 34,400 Palestinians have been killed and over 77,600 injured in Gaza since the start of the war, the Hamas-run health ministry in the Strip says.

The figures cannot be independently verified and include some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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