Students in Belgium, Netherlands Join Wave of Pro-Palestine Protests

Netherlands Belgium Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News May 07, 2024

University of Amsterdam

Students in Belgium and the Netherlands have joined the wave of protests around the world against the Israel-Hamas war, pitching dozens of tents on campuses, setting up barricades, and playing in drum circles. They are asking their universities to cut ties with Israel.

Pro-Palestianian protestors took over parts of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in the Netherlands and the University of Ghent in Belgium this Monday, reports.

Officials at UvA said that while they allowed students to protest during the day, if the latter plan to spend the night protesting on campus, they will be forced to call the police to intervene.

Ending cooperation with Israel is one of the demands of student protesters at the University of Amsterdam campus in downtown Amsterdam. At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), students are also asking the school to cut ties with Israel following its actions in Gaza.

Similarly, in Belgium, about 100 students gathered to occupy one of the University of Ghent buildings. The protest is planned to last until Wednesday, May 8.

In videos shared on social media, protesters can be heard chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has to go,” according to a Reuters report.

Several employees and professors at the University of Ghent have also opposed the university’s decision to continue academic partnerships with Israel. In a recently written letter, the signatories denounced the university’s collaboration with Israel.

Responding to them, Rector Rik Van de Walle said that Ghent’s new or renewed collaborations with other universities or companies are subject to human rights tests in advance. Van de Walle also commented on threats reported by protestors.

“At Ghent University, freedom of speech is possible at all times. In my communication to the initiators, I have made it clear that the administration of Ghent University never gives permission to activists to occupy a building, and that if, against this prohibition, such an action is taken, general rules apply at Ghent University which must be respected at all times,” he said.

Student protests against Israel’s war on Gaza started at Columbia’s University campus on the morning of April 17, spreading to many college campuses in the United States and worldwide, and leading to more than 2,5000 arrests.

Protesters generally call on their universities to cut financial ties with Israeli companies that support the war in Gaza.

Due to this disruption, the Ivy League school announced on Monday it has canceled its main graduation ceremony. Instead, it will allow smaller celebrations to protect students’ safety.

© Teresita Biafore | Unsplash

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