Students from 19 British universities have occupied floors, lecture halls and buildings demanding condemnation of Israel, responding to UN declared war crimes in Gaza last month.
Institutions such as Strathclyde, Sheffield, Newcastle and Leeds called for university statements condemning Israeli war crimes, as well as a boycott on Israeli goods and foreign aid to be sent to Gaza.
Demands were met successfully both in Oxford and Sussex – where 80 students occupied a lecture theatre spanning seven days at the University last week.
Students drafted proposals demanding condemnation of the siege, including educational aid for Palestine in the form of new scholarships for students affected by the bombings of universities and colleges in Gaza.
Tom Wills, 22, of Sussex Boycott told Veritas: “We called on the university to make a statement condemning Israel attacks on Gaza with particular reference to the attack of the University of Gaza.
“As an academic institution our university has a particular responsibility to speak out about attacks on the academic freedom and livelihood of students around the world.”
Demands met by Oxford University’s Senior Proctor included aid in repairing educational infrastructure inGaza and the possibility of a boycott on investments in Israel.
He said: “I am pleased to say that the points raised by the protestors have been considered carefully.
“As Senior Proctor I hope that Oxford will play its part in enabling deep and tolerant discourse on a range of difficult problems.”
But other university occupations have been met with varying success.
Birmingham students were forced to leave a room after just 12 hours due to the “exceptionally heavy-handed approach taken by the university”, where they were met by police.
A statement by the Birmingham in Solidarity with Gaza campaign said: “The University of Birmingham threatened to remove the occupants with force, forewarning them that they would be in “breach of the peace” if they did not leave the building.
“During negotiations of our demands the entrance to the room was then compromised by security guards and police making it impossible to maintain a secure hold on the room.”
The UK wide protest spread via the internet where boycott chapters linked together communicating through blogspot.com, similar to the student riots in Greece mobilising thousands across the country after a student was shot dead on December 6.
Tom Wills told Veritas: “I think the student movement is making a breakthrough. We are defying the people who say that students are apathetic and I think we’re proving that actually if we stand up for what we believe in, it will get results.
Pro-Palestinian groups have also called on Scottish institutions such as Edinburgh and Napier Universities to boycott Eden Springs, an Israeli water supplier sourced from a disputed region of Syria.
Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign organiser Mick Napier told Veritas: “Eden Springs are very clearly in violation of international law because of its behaviour in the occupied Golan Heights, which it exploits in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Napier University damages its reputation by being associated to such a company.”
No one at the Napier University press centre was available to comment.
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