14 Feb, 2023 @ 18:30
1 min read

Student groups claim ‘Israeli officer’ pulled out gun during protest at university in the Spanish capital

A man brandishes a pistol at a student protest

OFFICERS from Spain’s National Police force are investigating allegations that an Israeli officer brandished a firearm during a protest last week in Madrid’s Complutense University.

Recordings from the confrontation made by the demonstrators themselves show a man with a pistol trying to stop people from accessing a conference room where Spain’s ambassador to Israel was giving a talk. 

The appearance of top diplomat Rodica Radian-Gordon at the university prompted student and pro-Palestinian groups to organise a protest, according to Spanish online newspaper El Diario. 

The demonstration, however, descended into confrontation between the students and the university’s security staff. The protestors claim that Israeli officers were also present. 

One of the students present told El Diario that a group of protestors tried to access the conference room but were met by security guards and other individuals in plain clothes and who didn’t identify themselves. 

It was one of these men who pulled out the weapon, despite the fact that none of the demonstrators was armed. 

Police sources told El Diario that they did not know who the man with the weapon was, nor could they confirm that it was a genuine firearm. 

The Israeli embassy, meanwhile, responded to the newspaper’s questions by stating that it ‘does not comment’ on matters relating to the security of the ambassador. 

Student groups released a statement in the wake of the incident in which they ‘condemned the presence of police on our university campuses’. 

This latest confrontation came just weeks after major protests were held at the Complutense over the university’s decision to honour the controversial regional premier of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, as a distinguished alumni. 

The populist politician, from the conservative Popular Party (PP), has been widely criticised for making cuts to public services, in particular healthcare, prompting the demonstrations. 

Students who came out to protest against Ayuso on January 24 at the university were surprised to find a major police presence, including around a dozen riot vans. 

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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