Gaza protests: Oxford students reportedly threatened by group of men

A university has increased security measures after six men reportedly threatened students protesting against the war in Gaza.

Protest camps, described as "liberated zones", were set up near Oxford university campuses on 6 May.

Thames Valley Police confirmed it was called to Parks Road on Saturday at 20:50 BST to "reports of disorder".

Madeleine Jane, a freelance journalist and postgraduate student, captured the moment men confronted protesters.

Thames Valley Police confirmed no arrests were made following the incident, which happened opposite Keble College.

Officers instead issued a section 35 dispersal order to move people on from the area.

A University of Oxford spokesperson said they were "concerned" and had increased security for the encampment.

Ms Jane, who has been living in the camp and covering the protests as a journalist, told the BBC the incident on Saturday felt "surreal".

Posting on social media, she reported the men "ripped down banners, screamed at students and made threats".

She explained: "Protesters did not engage and de-escalators moved local community members away from the attackers.


Ms Jane said the men were "aggressive" with press on site, adding: "I was repeatedly approached, called a terrorist, screamed at and threatened."

She said she was "grateful there were well-trained people working hard to de-escalate" and that she "felt shaken" after the men were reportedly moved on by police.

Protesters in Oxford
Protest camps, described as "liberated zones" were set up near Oxford university campuses on 6 May [BBC]

A statement from the University of Oxford said its "key priority" since protests started has been the "safety and welfare of the whole university community, as well as visitors to our buildings and the public".

It added: "We are maintaining an increased security presence around the encampment to ensure the safety and welfare of everybody, while also providing regular protection across the rest of the university.

"We are in close contact with Thames Valley Police and are grateful to them for their swift response on Saturday evening."

List of demands
Protesters hung their list of demands on the gates of the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday [BBC]

Protesters have hung a list of their demands for the university vice chancellor at the gates of the Sheldonian Theatre.

On the list of demands, protesters called for the university to disclose all finances, overhaul university investment policy, boycott "Israeli genocide, apartheid and occupation" and stop banking with Barclays.

Israel has rejected accusations 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.

Since that date, more than 35,000 people have been killed, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

'We remain enraged'

In a statement after the incident, Oxford Action for Palestine said the men "accosted" protesters.

It added: "We are thankful no-one was hurt, but we remain enraged at the politically motivated fearmongering that jeopardised the safety of our campers."

The Union of Jewish Students has been approached for comment.

Update 15 May 2024: This story has been amended to include further details and quotes about the incident which led to the university stepping up security.

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