Student protests against Israel’s offensive in Gaza spread globally

Student protests against Israel’s offensive in Gaza spread globally
Student protests against Israel’s offensive in Gaza spread globally

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Police face-off with pro-Palestinian students after destroying part of the encampment barricade on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on May 2, 2024. — AFP pic

PARIS, May 5 — Student protests against the Israeli military assault on Gaza following the unprecedented October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel have spread to several countries.

Here is a round-up of the main campaigns.

United States

Demonstrators have gathered on at least 40 US university campuses since April 17, often erecting tent camps to protest against the soaring death toll in the Gaza Strip.

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Nearly 2,000 people have been detained, according to US media, in demonstrations reminiscent of protests against the Vietnam War.

In recent days, police have forcibly dismantled several student sit-ins, including one at New York University at the request of its administrators.

Demonstrators barricaded inside Columbia University, the epicentre in New York of the student protests, complained of police brutality when officers cleared the faculty.

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At the University of California, Los Angeles, hundreds of police emptied a camp, tearing down barriers and detaining more than 200 protesters.

Dozens of police in riot gear used chemical sprays to break up a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Virginia, student paper The Cavalier Daily reported.

Officers ripped away umbrellas some of the protesters wielded as shields, scuffled with a few, and tore down tents, according to a video posted by the newspaper.

Brown University in Rhode Island reached an agreement with students to remove their camp from the grounds in exchange for it considering divesting from “companies enabling and profiting from the genocide in Gaza”.

President Joe Biden broke his silence on the protests on Thursday, insisting “order must prevail”.

France

Police on Friday forcibly evacuated protesters from a pro-Gaza sit-in at Sciences Po in Paris, the country’s top political science school.

Officials said 91 people were arrested.

Sciences Po interim administrator Jean Basseres rejected a student demand to examine the institution’s links with Israeli universities.

Outside the nearby Sorbonne University, the Union of Jewish Students in France set up a “dialogue table” on Friday.

“Jewish students have their place in this dialogue,” said Joann Sfar, a comic-book artist invited as a guest speaker.

He said he understood why students were “outraged by what’s going on in the Middle East”.

At Paris-Dauphine University, administrators banned a conference involving Rima Hassan, a Franco-Palestinian expert in international law who has been vocal in condemning “genocide” in Gaza.

The ban, introduced on the grounds there was a risk of public disorder, has been overturned by the judicial authorities.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday condemned the university blockades at Sciences Po and other French universities that “prevented debate”.

Germany

Police intervened on Friday to evacuate protesters outside Humboldt University in central Berlin.

A number of demonstrators were “forcibly” removed after refusing to decamp to another location, police said.

Berlin mayor Kai Wegner criticised the protest, saying on X, formerly Twitter, that the city didn’t want to see events like those in the United States or France.

Canada

Students have protested against the war in Gaza in several cities, including Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

Hundreds of demonstrators have joined the first and largest camp, at Montreal’s McGill University, in the face of threats of a police clearance.

They have vowed to remain there until McGill cuts all financial and academic ties with Israel.

University administrators said on Wednesday they wanted the camp removed immediately, alleging that certain protesters were not members of the student body.

Australia

Hundreds of rival supporters of Gaza and Israel faced off at Sydney University on Friday, shouting slogans and waving flags.

Except for a few heated exchanges, the protest and counter-protest passed off peacefully.

Pro-ceasefire demonstrators have been camped for 10 days on a green lawn in front of the university. They want it to cut ties with Israeli institutions and reject funding from arms companies.

Ireland

Students at Trinity College Dublin university began a sit-in on Friday, describing the protest as a “solidarity encampment with Palestine”.

Mexico

Dozens of students from the country’s largest university, UNAM, set up a camp in the capital on Thursday, chanting “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will overcome”.

They want the Mexican government to sever all ties with Israel.

Switzerland

About 100 students have since Thursday been occupying the entrance of a building at Lausanne University, calling for an academic boycott of Israel and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The peaceful sit-in is due to continue until Monday. — AFP

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