Gaza protests: Oxford and Cambridge university students set up camps

Pitts Rivers Museum
Tents were erected on the lawn in front of Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum [BBC]

Students and staff at Oxford and Cambridge universities have begun protest camps against the war in Gaza.

So-called "liberated zones" were set up at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and at King's College, Cambridge, earlier.

The demonstrators called for the universities to cut financial ties with Israel following its offensive in Gaza.

Oxford University has previously expressed "profound sympathy for those suffering in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank".

In the past week, Pro-Palestinian protesters have have set up tents outside university buildings in cities including Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle as well as at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Protesters in Oxford
Protesters in Oxford called on the university to cut financial ties with Israel [BBC]

In a joint statement, Oxford Action for Palestine and Cambridge for Palestine called for the universities to stop lending "financial and moral support" to the Israeli government.

"Oxbridge's profits cannot continue to climb at the expense of Palestinian lives, and their reputations must no longer be built on the white-washing of Israeli crimes," it said.

Cambridge Jews for Justice in Palestine, a group of Jewish students at the University of Cambridge said it was also supporting the demonstration "to oppose Israel's occupation of Palestine".

More than 33,000 people have been killed in Israel's offensive in Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry there says, the majority of them civilians.

Israel rejects accusations that it is engaging in genocidal acts in its campaign in Gaza, and has insisted it has the right to defend itself following the armed incursion by Hamas on 7 October.

On Thursday, the Union of Jewish Students said the encampments were creating a "hostile and toxic atmosphere" on campuses and called on universities to "take their duty of care to Jewish students seriously".

In a statement, The University of Oxford said it was aware of the latest protests.

It added: "We respect our students and staff members right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful protests. We ask everyone who is taking part to do so with respect, courtesy and empathy.

"Oxford University's primary focus is the health and safety of the university community, and to ensure any impact on work, research and learning, including student exams, is minimised."

King's College Cambridge said: "We ask everyone in our community to treat each other with understanding and empathy.

"We will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia and any other form of racial or religious hatred, or other unlawful activity."

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