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Universities in Spain ready to suspend Israel ties amid protests

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Universities in Spain ready to suspend Israel ties amid protests
A banner inspired in Picasso's "Guernica" hangs at an encampment on the University of Valencia campus as part of a protest against the war in the Palestinian territories of Gaza, on May 3rd 2024, in Valencia. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)

Spanish universities expressed willingness Thursday to suspend ties with any Israeli educational institution that failed to express "a clear commitment to peace" as the war rages in Gaza.

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Students protests have gathered pace across Western Europe in recent weeks with protesters demanding an end to the Gaza bloodshed and to cut ties with Israel, taking their cue from demonstrations that have swept US campuses.

In a statement, the university chancellors' governing board (CRUE) denounced the violence and threw its support behind the protests that have recently popped on Spanish campuses.

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Demanding an immediate end to Israel's actions in Gaza, they pledged "to review ties and if necessary, suspend collaboration with Israeli universities and research centres that haven't expressed a firm commitment to peace and respect for international humanitarian law."

But the diplomatically-worded statement did not go far enough to appease students at several protest encampments that have popped up across Spain, which have so far been peaceful.

"What we really want is for the government and the university rectors to meet our demands and cut ties with Israel," Sebastián González, a 28-year-old law and political science student told AFP at Madrid's Complutense University as protesters were pitching several dozen tents on Tuesday.

"When our demands are met, then we will break up the camp. Until then we will continue resisting here and throughout Spain," said González, a spokesman for the protesters.

In Spain, the first protest began on April 29th at Valencia University in the east, with students pitching around two dozen tents to demand "an end to the genocide in Gaza".

That was followed by a similar tent protest at Barcelona University and this week the encampments spread to Madrid, the northern Basque country, Alicante in the east and the southern Andalusia region.

The Gaza war began on October 7th when Hamas militants stormed across the border into southern Israel, killing more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a blistering retaliatory offensive that has killed around 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The violence has sparked a wave of pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked US campuses for weeks in an intensity not seen for decades, with the movement then spreading to cities in Europe and even Australia.

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