Protest at Oxford University in Gaza leaves 16 arrested

Sixteen protesters were arrested after an Oxford University building was closed due to occupation by a pro-Palestinian group.

Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) began a sit-in at the university’s offices in Wellington Square at 08:00 BST, demanding a meeting on its policies relating to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The university accused them of “threatening and violent actions.”

Police said 16 people had been detained on suspicion of aggravated trespassing.

He added that one of the 16 had also been arrested on suspicion of common assault.

BBC Radio Oxford reporter Phil Mercer-Kelly, who was at the scene, said hundreds of people were outside the building and police prevented them from entering.

He added that there had been a “huge movement” when police forced a group of people back onto Little Clarendon Street to allow police vans to leave.

Protesters gained access to a private office inside the building and hung a Palestinian flag in a window along with a list of their demands.

In a statement, Thames Valley Police said: “Elements of this protest attempted to obstruct the removal of those arrested.”

The statement added that police were still managing an ongoing peaceful protest in the city.

An OX4P spokesperson said: “Today, Oxford students staged a peaceful sit-in to demand the university meet with us after two weeks of no response.

“Instead of engaging in dialogue with her students, the vice chancellor chose to evacuate the building, lock it down and call the police to make arrests.

“We demand that the administration meet with us to negotiate immediately.”

The university said the temporary occupation of the building had caused “significant distress” to staff.

A statement said: “Contrary to OA4P’s claims, this was not a ‘peaceful sit-in’, but rather a violent action designed to increase tensions.

“It is clear that the actions of some of the protesters involved in the encampment have created a deeply intimidating environment for many members of our community, including our Jewish students and staff and members of the local Jewish community.”

He insisted that the university’s senior leaders were “horrified by the suffering of people in Gaza and the hostage taking on October 7” and said there was “no place for intolerance at Oxford”.

On May 6, the so-called “liberated zones” They were installed in the Oxford Natural History Museum and King’s College, Cambridge..

Protesters called on universities to cut financial ties with Israel following its offensive in Gaza.

More than 33,000 people have been killed in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the Hamas-run Health Ministry has said, most of them civilians.

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

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