A pro-Palestinian camp on the Altes AKH University campus in Vienna was destroyed

Police dismantled a pro-Palestinian protest camp on the University of Vienna campus last night; ABA reporters reported this at the scene. According to police spokesman Mattias Schuster, around 40 people were in the camp during the police operation and were asked to leave the area several times. Only a few activists agreed to this.

The police gradually removed the protest camp. Some demonstrators were escorted away chanting pro-Palestinian slogans. According to Schuster, three of them were initially in police custody to establish their identities. Activists previously reported via email that “about 200 police officers” surrounded the student camp and gave protesters 15 minutes to leave the area.

The announcement of the eviction sparked mobilization on social networks. About 100 pro-Palestinian sympathizers – including activists who had pitched their tents from the camp – then gathered in the Alser Straße/Spitalgasse area and blocked both streets. According to APA reporters, they waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Palestine from the river to the sea,” “Freedom, freedom for Palestine!” and anti-police “Shame!” They raised slogans like

Many were covered, for example by protective masks. The police also found a violation of the ban on wearing masks. The atmosphere was loud but calm, APA reporters said. As the night progressed, the demonstrators somewhat dispersed.

Special units such as WEGA, Service Dog Squad, Directorate of State Security and Intelligence (DSN) and Office of State for State Security and Counter-Terrorism (LSE) were also used to police. A police drone was also used.

According to police reports, around 100 people pitched their tents at the old AKH following a “pro-Palestinian” demonstration on the Vienna University campus on Monday. The University of Vienna “resolutely” distanced itself from the protesters’ concerns. Pro-Palestinian camps have previously set up and occupied buildings at universities in the US and Europe. There was sometimes violence during their expulsion.

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DSN and LSE monitored the situation at the Altes AKH complex from the beginning. Initially, police spokesman Shuster explained that the crowd was not large enough to warrant an immediate dispersal of the protest camp. That has changed as increasing radicalization has been observed in terms of content. Among other things, chants glorifying the goals of the militant Palestinian organization Hamas and calls for an indifada (Palestinian uprising) were later recorded. “After a review of all the circumstances and a final assessment by the DSN, the purpose of this meeting no longer complies with the Austrian legal situation,” Schuster continued.

The DSN concluded that the true purpose of the meeting was in solidarity with the goals of Hamas, and therefore no longer covered by the right to freedom of expression. Also, the protest held at the Old General Hospital grounds has been classified as a threat to public safety. “Public safety and health is always a priority,” police spokesman Shuster stressed. That is why security officials decided to break up the rally. Hamas denies Israel its right to exist and is classified as a terrorist organization in the European Union.

The Student Union of the University of Vienna (ÖH) also distanced itself from the protest camp. “Clearly anti-Semitic groups” such as “Der Funke” or the Israel boycott campaign BDS called for this “camp”. Such protests could make Jewish students feel unsafe, it said on Monday. Nora Hasan, head of the ÖH at the University of Vienna, told APA on Thursday night: “We have to provide a non-discriminatory space for everyone. Jewish students cannot come to lectures and seminars, and there must be solidarity with Palestine, but without anti-Semitism, said a representative of the Socialist Student Union (VSStÖ). “We work closely with the Jewish Student Association,” he emphasized.

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On Wednesday afternoon, a protest against the protest camp was held on the grounds of the Old General Hospital. More than 70 people followed the call of the Jewish Austrian Students (JöH) and gathered a few dozen meters apart in front of the camp. Protesters chanted “Free, Free Palestine!” Or they heard slogans like “Israel is a terrorist state”.

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