Pro-Palestinian protest in Amsterdam turns violent after student rally halted

By Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Police clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters as thousands marched in the Dutch capital on Tuesday, 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 United States.

Amsterdam police used a bulldozer to knock down barricades early on Tuesday 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 on Tuesday 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 on Tuesday 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.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Additional reporting by Bart Meijer, Stephanie van den Berg and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Lincoln Feast, William Maclean, Ed Osmond, Jonathan Oatis, Alexandra Hudson and Nick Macfie)