A group of pro-Palestinian activists held a peaceful sit-in at the Groningen railway station on Wednesday, November 15, to protest against the ongoing violence in Gaza and the West Bank. According to the Groninger Internet Courant, the protesters, who were part of the Groningen for Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine movements, carried banners and signs with slogans such as “Who is silent agrees” and “Free Palestine”. They also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” That slogan also made an appearance in a different form: “From the river to the sea, Netanyahu you will see.”
A call for solidarity and change
The sit-in lasted for about an hour and did not disrupt the train services or the commuters. The protesters said they wanted to raise awareness and solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been suffering from Israeli occupation for decades. They also called for an end to the Dutch government’s support for Israel and its arms trade with the country.
The sit-in marks only one of many actions pro-Palestinian groups have organized in recent weeks. On November 4, they conducted a candlelight vigil at Grote Markt, honoring Palestinian victims. A week later, they participated in a national rally in Amsterdam, demanding a ceasefire and a just resolution to the conflict.
From candlelight vigils to national rallies
Advocacy for Palestinian rights is gaining traction in the Netherlands. Peace groups have launched a new initiative, planning sit-ins at nine train stations nationwide, including the main station in Groningen. These protests, which started at 5:00 PM on Thursday, seek to mobilize greater support in light of the escalating violence in Gaza and demand more decisive action from both the political establishment and the general public.
The initiatives, spearheaded by MiGreat and allied groups, stress a long list of demands. They call for an end to the Dutch government’s support for Israel, cessation of arms supplies to the country, and the severance of diplomatic ties.
Allegations of complicity and silence: Holding the Netherlands accountable
The pro-Palestine groups’ statements underscore a sentiment of accountability, accusing the Netherlands of contributing to civilian deaths by not vocally opposing Israel’s actions. They argue that silence equates to compliance and indirectly supports Israel’s actions by refraining from demanding an immediate ceasefire or unconditional admission of humanitarian aid into the region.
Notably, these demonstrations aim not to disrupt train services but rather to resonate with the 1.1 million daily commuters, spotlighting the contrasting ease of travel against the hardships faced by Palestinians. The strategic choice of train stations for protests is an attempt to illustrate this stark disparity.
With plans for more actions around the election time, the groups vow to escalate their efforts. A major protest is scheduled at The Hague Central Station on November 21, followed by simultaneous demonstrations on November 23 across multiple locations nationwide. The groups aim to sustain their activism until their demands are acknowledged and acted upon.