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Students occupy London university building over Gaza

In World
May 15, 2024

Students have occupied a building at the London School of Economics (LSE) to protest against what they say are the university’s ties with Israel.

The pro-Palestinian activists are calling for the central London university to cut financial ties with the country over its conduct in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Protest encampments have sprung up at university campuses across the UK, US and European countries calling for an end to the war.

A university spokesperson told BBC News its priority continued to be the “wellbeing of the LSE community”.

The activists began their occupation of the Marshall Building, which contains the departments of accounting, finance and management on its Holborn campus, shortly after holding a rally outside on Monday afternoon.

Ethan Chua, LSE Student’s Union Palestine Society Member, said the students wanted to disrupt university operations until they met their demands which also include divestment from fossil fuel companies.

He added students at the university had earlier presented a report that they say details links between LSE and “egregious activities” in Israel.

“Our main message to LSE management is a call for divestment because we refuse to keep going to a university that is materially complicit in the destruction of our planet and the death of Palestinians,” he added.

Throughout the conflict the Israeli government has maintained it has worked to minimise civilian casualties in its operations in Gaza.

Ethan Chua

Student Ethan Chua called for the LSE to cut ties with Israel [BBC]

While footage of the beginning of the occupation showed hundreds of protestors gathered inside the Marshall Building, Mr Chua said this had now reduced to about 50 and that they intend to remain until their demands were met.

He added they had come to an agreement with the campus’ security team to allow students with ID to maintain access to the building during the demonstration.

An LSE spokesperson said: “Following a rally on the LSE campus, some protestors entered and occupied part of the ground floor of the LSE Marshall Building, highlighting a range of demands relating to investments.

“We will carefully consider the report submitted by the protest group and respond in due course. We will also continue to engage in a peaceful dialogue.”

They added exams due to take place in other buildings on the campus remain unaffected by the protest.

LSE rally

Earlier the students held a rally and gave speeches [BBC]

Meanwhile, students at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are calling for their university to cut associations with businesses that fund military weapons as well as sever ties with Haifa University in Israel.

A spokesperson for SOAS said protests could take place “as long as it remains peaceful” and it was “committed to divesting” from any company that “breaks the principles of its ethical investment policy”.

The SOAS Jewish Society said in a social media post that it stood “shoulder to shoulder with our classmates and colleagues at the SOAS Liberated Zone for Gaza”.

Edward Isaacs, the Union of Jewish Students’ president, said: “When the speech becomes unlawful and when there is an environment on campus which becomes toxic and hateful for Jewish students, then that [should be] stamped out because Jewish students deserve to be able to study safely and feel included on campus.”

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