University College London students set up pro-Palestine camp on campus

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The protests in the UK come after more than 1,000 people were arrested after pro-Palestinian protests on campuses across the US.

Students at University College London are occupying their campus in protest against the war in Gaza.

Around a dozen orange and green tents have been pitched outside the main building in Bloomsbury since Thursday May 2.

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Protesters are calling for the university to divest from “Israeli war crimes” along with a pledge to rebuild universities in Gaza.

Tents pitched on campus at UCL. Credit: Prof Hanna KienzlerTents pitched on campus at UCL. Credit: Prof Hanna Kienzler
Tents pitched on campus at UCL. Credit: Prof Hanna Kienzler | Credit: Prof Hanna Kienzler

Students at Goldsmiths, University of London, have also occupied the library since Wednesday May 1.

Universities across the UK including Warwick, Bristol and Leeds are also taking part in the action.

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The protests in the UK come after more than 2,000 people were arrested after pro-Palestinian protests on campuses across the US.

On Thursday riot police arrested hundreds of students at the University of California, Los Angeles. While on Tuesday New York City police removed a protest encampment at Columbia University.

A spokesperson for the UCL encampment said they were prepared to continue their protest until the university divests from Israeli institutions that "profit from the war in Gaza and occupation of Palestinian lands".

"In the last seven months, we have witnessed unimaginable horrors taking place in Gaza, and we as students cannot stand by and watch UCL continue to profit from this genocide,” said the spokesperson. 

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"It's paramount that institutions we study at do not profit from the ongoing genocide in Gaza, that they answer our demands by divesting from companies who profit from the occupation and to pledge to help rebuild universities in Gaza."

Students protesting at UCL. Credit: Seiya TanaseStudents protesting at UCL. Credit: Seiya Tanase
Students protesting at UCL. Credit: Seiya Tanase | Credit: Seiya Tanase

A UCL spokesperson said: "Like many other universities, a small protest with tents is taking place in our quad. We are speaking with the organisers and carefully monitoring the situation. 

"We will manage this in line with our legal duty and commitment to promote freedom of speech within the law whilst ensuring the safety and security of our community and enabling our education and research activity to continue."

A spokesman for Goldsmiths, University of London said: “From the start of the conflict we have prioritised the safety and support of all students and staff. We recognise that people hold strong views over the war and uphold their right to freely express themselves while being clear about the need to be respectful and within the law.

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“We are in dialogue with students over these issues and are fully committed to working together to put in place meaningful support for those affected by the war.

“This includes pledging £120,000 a year to humanitarian scholarships for Palestinian students to study with us and developing ways of supporting the rebuilding of universities and education in the region.”

The prime minister's spokesman said police would "have our full support" if students in the UK tried to replicate protests at US universities.

Rishi Sunak's spokesman said: "We've always been clear that people have a right to peaceful and lawful protest - but clearly, people shouldn't abuse that right to intimidate others, cause unnecessary disruption."

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