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Sixteen arrested over Oxford University Gaza protest

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Sixteen arrested over Oxford University Gaza protest

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Sixteen protesters have been arrested after a University of Oxford building was locked down due to an occupation by a pro-Palestinian group.

Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) started a sit-in at the university offices on Wellington Square at 08:00 BST.

The group had been demanding a meeting with the university to review its policies relating to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) said it had arrested 16 people on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

A palestinian flag hanging out of window at the Oxford university offices

A Palestinian flag was hung from a first-floor window [BBC]

It 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, being prevented by police from entering.

He added there had been a “big movement” as police forced a group of people back to Little Clarendon Street to allow police vans to leave.

Protesters had gained access to a private office inside the building, and hung a Palestinian flag out of a window alongside a list of their demands.

In a statement, TVP said: “Elements of this protest sought to obstruct the removal of the persons arrested.”

The statement added that police were still managing an on-going peaceful protest in the city.

It is unclear if the offices at Wellington Square remain in lock down.

People sitting on the street in front of police

Police forced some people back to Little Clarendon Street [BBC]

A spokesperson for OX4P said: “Today, Oxford students staged a peaceful sit-in to demand that the university meet with us after two weeks of non-response.

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

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

The university has yet to respond to a request for comment.

On 6 May, so-called “liberated zones” were set up at Oxford’s Museum of Natural History and King’s College, Cambridge.

The demonstrators called for the 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 there has said, the majority of them civilians.

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

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