University threatens court action over Gaza protests

Protesters with banners and a Palestinian flag flying outside the Radcliffe Camera
Pro-Palestinian protests have been held at the Radcliffe Camera [BBC]

Oxford University has said it will go to court to force pro-Palestine protesters to leave its land.

In an open letter addressed to the Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P), the university said an encampment around the Radcliffe Camera should be disbanded by 7 July.

A camp outside the Museum of Natural History has already been dismantled.

Protesters have called for the university to cut financial ties with Israel and to overhaul its investment policy.

Protester, with surgical mask on, behind metal fencing
The encampment outside the Museum of Natural History was dismantled earlier this week [BBC]

The letter said the university "recognises the importance of peaceful protest and the deeply felt concerns" about the situation in Gaza and Israel.

It said the forced entry of Wellington Square and the occupation of the Examinations Schools were "totally unacceptable".

"The university now gives notice that it intends to close the encampment around the Radcliffe Camera. You are instructed to disband the camps and vacate the land in accordance with the enclosed notice.

"If the camps are not disbanded by midnight, Sunday, July 7, the university will apply to the court for a possession order."

It added there would be no disciplinary action taken against students in respect of their presence on the camps up to that date.

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group's cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 252 others were taken hostage.

More than 37,765 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

On 6 May, protest camps were set up outside the Museum of Natural History in Oxford as well as in Cambridge.

OA4P have been demanding that the university disclose and divest any financial interests in Israel, as well as calling on it to rebuild educational institutions in Gaza that have been affected by the current conflict.

The university fenced off the area outside the Museum of Natural History on Sunday morning "in preparation for returning it to public use" and to "avoid further damage to the lawn".

An OA4P representative accused the university of a "series of repressive acts".

"In the midst of this fencing-in, members of OA4P were threatened with disciplinary action and had limited access to bathroom facilities. Now, the university turns its attention towards our Liberated Zone at the Radcliffe Camera."

Follow BBC South on FacebookX, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to

See also