Published: 16:59, May 24, 2024
Oxford University students arrested at pro-Palestinian sit-in
By Reuters
A passerby with the head covered with a keffiyeh walks past a banner reading "Welcome to the people's university for Palestine" at Oxford University, in Oxford, eastern England on May 7, 2024, as a pro-Palestinian camp has been set up on the campus. (PHOTO / AFP)

OXFORD, England — British police said they had arrested 16 people on suspicion of aggravated trespass at the University of Oxford on Thursday, after pro-Palestinian protesters held a sit-in at the university vice-chancellor's office.

The Oxford Action for Palestine group (OA4P) said university authorities called police after students began their protest at administration offices, as has happened at other campuses in Britain, the United States and elsewhere during the conflict in Gaza.

One of the 16 people arrested had also been arrested on suspicion of common assault, police said. No arrests had been made at separate protests nearby and elsewhere in the city

"Officers attended Wellington Square at Oxford University, at around 8 am this morning following reports that protesters had gained access to a private office within one of the buildings," Thames Valley Police said in a statement.

READ MORE: Gaza genocide protests by students shames the elites in the Western world

One of the 16 people arrested had also been arrested on suspicion of common assault, police said. No arrests had been made at separate protests nearby and elsewhere in the city.

"This was not a peaceful sit-in, but a violent action that included forcibly overpowering the receptionist," the university said in a statement. "It is clear that a faction of students and faculty claiming to represent OA4P have not been interested in dialogue in good faith," it added

Footage posted on social media by OA4P showed altercations between officers and students sitting in the road blocking a police van which it said was carrying detainees.

The protesters had been calling for the university to divest from companies with ties to Israel, which is at war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip

"Let them go," the demonstrators chanted.

READ MORE: 'Show solidarity': Pro-Palestinian protesters camp across Australian universities

The protesters had been calling for the university to divest from companies with ties to Israel, which is at war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"It is evident the administration would rather arrest, silence, and physically assault its own students than confront its enabling of Israel's genocide in Gaza," the group said on X.

Police said officers had taken "lawful, proportionate and necessary action in the difficult circumstances they faced".