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Gaza protests against Israel reach Europe

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PARIS: Student-led protests over the war in Gaza were widening in Europe on Friday as activists in France and Britain follow the lead of a campus demonstrations spreading in the US.

Protesters in Paris blocked an entrance to elite university Sciences Po on Friday, refusing to back down after a tent “occupation” was broken up by police a day earlier.

Activists at University College London were planning a rally in the name of a “global student movement for Palestine”, taking inspiration from protests at New York’s Columbia University.

Tensions flared in front of Paris’ prestigious Scie­nces Po University over the Israeli war on Gaza on Friday as pro-Israeli protesters came to challenge pro-Palestinian students occupying the building. Police moved in to keep the two groups apart.

Demonstrations on campus start taking lead from widening US protests

Pro-Palestinian students wore the black-and-white keffiyeh head scarf that has become an emblem of solidarity with Gaza.

They demanded the ins­titution condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza, in a protest that echoed similar demonstrations on US campuses.

“When we see what is happening in the United States, and now in Australia, we’re really hoping it will catch on here in France, the academic world has a role to play,” said 22-year-old Hicham, a master’s student in human rights and humanitarian studies at Sciences Po.

“We hope that will spread to all universities and beyond … we won’t give in until the genocide in Gaza ends,” said 20-year old Zoe, a master’s student in public administration at Sciences Po.

Later in the day, pro-Israel protesters, some wrapped in Israeli or French flags, walked to the building in protest.

Renewed clashes between police and students opposed to Israel’s war in Gaza broke out on US campuses on Thursday, raising questions about forceful methods being used to shut down protests that have intensified since mass arrests at Columbia University last week.

Israel has killed at least 34,305 Palestinians, most of them women and children, in its assault on Gaza.

Pro-Palestine camp at Germany’s parliament

In Germany’s capital Berlin, police on Friday began clearing a pro-Palestinian camp set up in front of the German parliament by activists demanding the government to stop arms exports to Israel and end the criminalisation of the Palestinian solidarity movement gaining momentum in US and other Western countries.

Police dismantled tents, forcibly removed protesters and blocked the surrounding area to stop others arriving at the camp.

The Berlin camp ‘Bese­tzung Gegen Besatzung’ — ‘Occupy Against Occu­pation’ — began on April 8, coinciding with the start of International Court of Justice hearings in Nicaragua’s case aga­inst Germany for providing military aid to Israel.

“The idea was to draw attention to that and … to the German comp­licity and active enabling of the Israeli genocide in Gaza,” the camp organiser, Jara Nassar, said.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2024

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