Police clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters as thousands marched in the Dutch capital yesterday, a day after riot police violently broke up an encampment at Amsterdam University.
Police were seen using batons against protesters to prevent them from marching past the nearby Holocaust Monument on their way to Amsterdam city centre.
When protesters arrived at a central Amsterdam University location, protesters barricaded the narrow canal-facing road in front of the university buildings.
Earlier in the day a crowd of several hundred had gathered, chanting slogans against the war in Gaza and denouncing Israel’s ongoing military operations.
“Free, Free Palestine!”, protesters shouted. “The people united will never be defeated.” Student protests over the war and academic ties with Israel have begun to spread across Europe but have remained much smaller in scale than those seen in the US.
Amsterdam police used a bulldozer to knock down barricades early yesterday and detained 169 people in sometimes violent clashes, statements and videos of the protest showed.
Teachers and university employees angered by the police response called for another protest yesterday afternoon.
“Students and staff describe the use of pepper spray, police batons, police dogs and bulldozers to forcefully remove them. People were injured because of this excessive violence,” a group calling itself Dutch Scholars for Palestine said in a statement.
“We firmly and unequivocally insist upon the rights of students and scholars to engage in protest. We deplore the University of Amsterdam administration’s reliance on using violence instead of engaging in the students’ justified demands.” The university said in a statement that an initially peaceful student protest which began on Monday afternoon had turned hostile, with beatings, throwing of fireworks and the burning of an Israeli flag. The university provided a list of its Israel programmes to meet a request by student groups, but a core of the protesters were not satisfied and refused to leave.
“We deeply regret that things went the way they did. Demonstrating is permitted at the UvA, but without covered faces, barricades or an atmosphere of intimidation,” it said. In messages posted overnight on social media X, police said they had to act to stop the event on Monday and dismantle tents due to safety risks. Protesters had ignored requests by the university and the mayor to leave the campus, police said.
All but four demonstrators were released yesterday morning. The four were being kept on charges of public violence and insulting an officer. One officer suffered hearing damage, a police spokeswoman said, adding that it was still unclear how many other people may have been injured.
“The police’s input was necessary to restore order. We see the footage on social media. We understand that those images may appear as intense,” police said.
Outgoing Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said universities were places for dialogue and debate and he was sad to see that police had to intervene.
German police cleared a pro-Palestinian protest camp at a courtyard of the Freie Universitaet Berlin, which had called for a stop to Israel’s military operation in Gaza, Reuters reported.
Some 100 people set up two dozen tents on the campus on Tuesday, joining a call by the so-called “Student Coalition Berlin” to occupy German universities.
Students from various Berlin universities joined the protest, carrying Palestinian flags and shouting slogans supporting Palestinians and denouncing Israel and Germany.

Pro-Palestinian protests yesterday spread to three universities across Switzerland — inspired by similar student demonstrations that began in the US.
For weeks, students around the world have been calling for their universities to cut ties with Israeli institutions over the war in Gaza, AFP reported from Geneva.
Students at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) were the first to mobilise in Switzerland, with several hundred occupying a hall Thursday evening to demand an end to partnerships with Israeli universities.

Clashes broke out between police and protesters during a pro-Palestinian rally in central Athens yesterday, a day after the Israeli military launched a ground and air operation in part of eastern Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported from Athens.
More than 300 people carrying Palestinian flags and banners reading “Hands off Rafah!” rallied outside the parliament building in the Greek capital. “We are here in solidarity and we will respond any time the Palestinians call (for solidarity),” said protester Antonis Davanellos, a 60-year old pensioner.
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