Police clear pro-Palestinian camp from Swiss university

A banner reading “In Gaza this university would have been bombed” (L) is displayed as Pro-Palestinian students prepare to leave a building of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland on May 7, 2024. /CFP

A banner reading “In Gaza this university would have been bombed” (L) is displayed as Pro-Palestinian students prepare to leave a building of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland on May 7, 2024. /CFP

Swiss police moved in early on Wednesday to remove dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters holed up at the University of Bern, the school said in a statement.

Student demonstrations have gathered pace across Western Europe in recent weeks with protesters demanding an end to the Gaza bloodshed and urging that ties be cut with Israel.

Swiss police acted following a request by Bern University’s management, which had described the student occupation as “unacceptable.”

The students were protesting against Israel’s Gaza offensive that was sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack that killed around 1,200 people.

Israel’s subsequent bombardment and offensive in Gaza have killed at least 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The last of around 30 protesters left Bern University early on Wednesday. They chanted pro-Palestinian slogans outside the building before leaving the area, a journalist from the Keystone-ATS agency said.

Dozens of demonstrators had been occupying university premises, including the restaurant, since Sunday night.

They were demanding an “academic boycott of Israel institutions” and had ignored a university ultimatum to leave the premises.

University rector Christian Leumann said in a statement published on Wednesday that he was open to talks but that “an occupation with politically-motivated demands does not create an environment for constructive dialogue”.

On Tuesday, police in Geneva removed around 50 pro-Palestinian protesters from a university there.

Source(s): AFP