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Free students at the University of Brussels join the ‘academic boycott’ movement against Israel

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A group of students on Monday joined the international wave of protest in the camps, calling for an academic boycott of the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in Belgium amid Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Students at the university’s Dutch-language campus occupied the dining hall where they set up their tents, blankets, carpets, sleeping bags, and food.

They expressed their determination not to leave the area until their demand was implemented, which was to cut all academic ties with Israel.

Johanna Pinket, an 18-year-old political science student at VUB, told Anadolu: “We want a complete boycott of Israeli academia. And we see it in other universities with similar demands .

“We really want to show our support to other students and a complete academic boycott between VUB and Israeli institutions and universities,” Pinket said.

“We really want change now,” Pinket added, stressing that the protest would continue if necessary.

“I think as a student, we really have a responsibility. Every university in Gaza is bombed, which is very painful for us students to see. So, we show a lot of solidarity with our fellow students in Gaza as well. “

Ruaa Khatib, a 23-year-old communication science student, said VUB has ties to Zionist groups.

“What we are asking for is actually an academic boycott of the Zionist entity because our university has ties to the Zionist entity,” he said. “It (the VUB) is at this point engaging in a genocide.”

Students at universities around the world, including the UK, US, and Canada, have begun occupying parts of their campuses, protesting against Israel’s attacks on Gaza and civilians.

In Belgium, students joined the movement on May 6. Protests continued in several cities, including Liege and Anvers.

Nearly 35,100 Palestinians have been killed and more than 78,800 injured in a brutal Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip since an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7 last year that killed nearly of 1,200 people.

More than seven months after Israel’s war, large parts of Gaza are devastated amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

In an interim decision in January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based in The Hague said it was “credible” that Tel Aviv committed genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and make measures to ensure that humanitarian aid is provided to civilians in the enclave.

South Africa on Friday asked the ICJ to order Israel to withdraw from the southern Gaza town of Rafah as part of additional emergency measures in the war.

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