Pro-Palestine demonstration at UNL

Protesters try to occupy building of the association of Dutch universities

Pro-Palestina demonstranten bezetten UNL
Pro-Palestine protesters attempt to occupy UNL building. Photo posted by the protesters

A few dozen activists, covering their faces with masks and scarves, occupied the hall of an office building in The Hague on Tuesday, June 4. The building houses several organisations, including the association of Dutch Universities, UNL. The activists have also climbed on a roof.

"This is really intimidating," a spokesperson for UNL says. "We are talking to them and to the police to decide the most reasonable course of action."

The activists announced that they had occupied UNL by posting photos on social media. A big sign saying "Boycott & Divest" was hung on the facade, alongside another sign that said that universities are complicit in genocide.

The police have cleared the building and removed the protesters from the roof. Images captured at the scene show that this process went smoothly. Officers led somewhat reluctant demonstrators to vans, as they shouted slogans like "We are the people, what are you?"

The protesters argue that university administrators have coordinated their responses in recent weeks. For example, most universities have set up committees to reevaluate their ties with Israeli institutions. However, the demonstrators don't want to wait for that, "especially while Palestinians are being slaughtered every second."

Right address
Were the activists at the right address, though? "We are not making any decisions regarding universities' partnerships with other organisations," explains a spokesperson. "That is up to each university. Here, we exchange knowledge, make agreements regarding labour conditions, and we are committed to providing the best possible preconditions for universities.”

“Viva viva Intifada”, reads a statement from one of the activists, referring to previous acts of resistance on the part of Palestinians against the Israeli occupation. Hamas, the terrorist organisation that attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,400 people and taking 200 hostages, was founded during the first Intifada. Since then, Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip have killed over 35,000 people and destroyed most of the territory.