Paris police clear Gaza protesters at Sorbonne university

By Lucien Libert

PARIS (Reuters) -Police moved in to clear dozens of protesters who had set up tents in a courtyard at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Monday to protest against the war in Gaza, students there said.

The demonstration took place three days after protests at the capital's elite Sciences Po university and came in the wake of rallies in campuses across the United States against the conflict.

"We set up tents ... like in several U.S. universities," Sorbonne student Louis Maziere said. "We're doing all we can to raise awareness about what is happening in Palestine, about the ongoing genocide in Gaza."

"Police then came running in, brought down tents, grabbed students by the collar and dragged them on the ground, that's not OK... We're quite shocked," he said.

Fellow student Lou said: "What we're pushing for is peace and they answer with force and violence."

BFM TV showed footage of police dragging a couple of students out.

A police source confirmed they had intervened to clear out the Sorbonne's courtyard.

"This operation, which lasted only a few minutes, was carried out peacefully without incident," the source said, declining to respond to questions on how the students had been removed.

The university, one of the world's oldest, closed its buildings for the day during the peaceful protests. Students chanted 'Free Palestine' and urged the institution to condemn Israel.

Israel has imposed a siege on Gaza and mounted an air and ground assault in which at least 34,488 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health authorities.

Israel's actions came in response to an attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 by militants of the Palestinian group Hamas in which 253 people were taken hostage and about 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli tallies.

Several French politicians, including Mathilde Panot who heads the hard-left LFI group of lawmakers in the National Assembly, have urged supporters on social media to join the Sorbonne protests.

(Reporting by Lucien Libert; Writing by Tassilo Hummel and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones)