Gaza-support walkouts planned at universities today; Protesters accused of Hamas support

A group of Pro-Palestinian activists set up a tent encampment on the Roeterseiland campus of the University of Amsterdam. 6 May 2024
A group of Pro-Palestinian activists set up a tent encampment on the Roeterseiland campus of the University of Amsterdam. 6 May 2024

Lecturers and students at various universities in the Netherlands are planning walk-out protests today in support of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege from Israel since October 7. Protesters in Amsterdam reportedly express support for the Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas in their WhatsApp group and silence those who argue against it or want to advocate for the release of Israeli hostages, the Telegraaf reported after joining the UvA for Palestine group and reading along with the messages posted there.

According to the Telegraaf, some members of the WhatsApp group support Hamas unconditionally, but group members urge each other to keep this quiet. After discovering graffiti on the walls of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) containing the name Abu Abaida, the spokesman for the armed branch of Hamas, a group member called Paco posted on the group: “I understand that people admire him. But I don’t know if it’s good for the movement to put this on the walls and then be dismissed as Hamas sympathizers. Maybe we should take it down for good measure?”

Group members wonder how Palestine can be liberated “without an armed resistance group like Hamas,” and compare the terrorist movement to the ANC in South Africa, which was also labeled terrorists when fighting apartheid in the country. Group members called Hamas the “only real resistance” and said that “armed struggle and violence are necessary to get out of the system.” They also said that “decolonization is always violent” and that the Hamas attack on Israel that sparked the war in Gaza at least focused the world’s eyes on the suffering of the Palestinians, according to the newspaper.

According to the Telegraaf, the group admins removed a Jewish student from the group because he argued against comparing Hamas with the ANC and advocated for releasing Israeli hostages. “There are other group chats you can join and advocate for the release of hostages and a ceasefire,” another group participant told the Jewish student, Max. “The ultimate goal of this group is a free Palestine.” According to the newspaper, group members also called Max a Zionist and said that a deal for a hostage exchange “is not at all pro-Palestinian.”

After they deleted Max from the group, the group manager wrote: “We are sorry for those who feel that we may be silencing people, but this kick-out did not come out of the blue.”

Lecturers, students, and others in Amsterdam and Utrecht protested against their universities’ continued ties with Israeli institutions despite the war in Gaza by occupying university buildings and grounds several times last week. According to the UvA, the protesters caused around 1.5 million euros in damages at the university.

On Monday, lecturers and students at multiple Dutch universities plan to walk out of their classes at 11:00 a.m. to protest this point. Protests are planned at universities in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Nijmegen, and Leiden, among others. “We, staff members of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, are shocked by the response of our executive board regarding the complicity of our university in the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the repression of protests in Amsterdam this week,” the staff members of the VU University Amsterdam wrote when announcing their participation in Monday’s protest.

The University of Amsterdam released a statement saying it will allow the walkout as long as it remains peaceful and protesters don’t set up tents or barricades. “As previously communicated, face-covering clothing, intimidation, or offensive slogans are also not permitted.”

The violence in the Middle East flared up on October 7, when Hamas committed attacks in Israel, killing 1,139 people and injuring at least 8,730. Hamas also took hostages. Israel immediately responded with attacks on the Gaza Strip and has been bombing the coastal strip where around 2.3 million Palestinians lived ever since.

As of 2:00 p.m. on May 12, local time, Israeli attacks have killed 35,034 people in Gaza, Al Jazeera reported based on figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Over 14,500 children have been killed. Over 78,755 people are injured and more than 10,000 are missing, likely buried under the rubble that now covers most of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces also occupied parts of the West Bank, killing 498 people, including 124 children, and injuring over 4,950.

Israel’s attacks have destroyed or damaged around 60 percent of homes in Gaza, as well as 80 percent of commercial buildings, 73 percent of schools, 83 percent of groundwater wells, and 267 places of worship. Only 12 of the 35 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are partially functioning. Al Jazeera based these figures on data from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Health Organization, and the Palestinian government, as of May 12.

Israel is currently expanding its military operation in Rafah, according to Al Jazeera. The vast majority of Palestinians are currently sheltering there. The Rafah and Abu Salem crossings into Gaza have been closed, resulting in virtually no aid entering the territory.

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Categories: Alternative, Israel
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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