Photo: CD Bank
Protest on campus
Photo: CD Bank

Students stage sit-in at Cambridge over Gaza

Dozens of people, including several Israelis, refuse to leave British university's law faculty until management helps raise funds for Strip's residents, grants scholarships to Palestinian students

LONDON – More than 100 students from Britain's Cambridge University – including five Israelis, as well as Palestinians, Britons and residents of other countries – have been staging a sit-in at the prestigious university's law faculty since Friday in protest of the Israeli activity in the Gaza Strip.


The students said they would not evacuate themselves until the academic institutions launched a series of actions, including a fundraiser for Gaza's residents and scholarships to Palestinian students.


"Some 15 students gathered and screened the film 'Palestine is Still the Issue'," said Becky, the group's spokeswoman who refused to give out her full name and said she possesses an Israeli passport.


"About 100 students arrived," she told Ynet. "After the screening which broke our hearts, we voted spontaneously and democratically and decided to refuse to leave the faculty building until all our demands are answered."


The students quickly started a Facebook group and spent the night on the two floors of the law faculty. "If our demands are not answered, we won't leave even after the weekend," Becky added, "but we have no plans to disrupt the classes. We'll stay here in order to make ourselves heard."


And what exactly do they want? According to a statement issued by the group, they are demanding that Cambridge University hold a fundraiser for humanitarian aid to Gaza and fund at least 10 scholarships a year for Palestinian students.


They claimed that the university was involved in the arms dealing industry, and demanded that it halt any related activities. They also demanded that no measures be taken against them over their participation in the protest activity.


Destruction in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)


According to Becky, dialogues and demonstrations have been held in the past, but "we can't remain indifferent to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been going on for 60 years and becoming worse every day."


She noted that the sit-in protest was part of a British students' effort in more than a dozen universities in the country, including Oxford, the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies.


Manar Makhoul, who defines himself as a Palestinian citizen of Israel from a Galilee village, told Ynet on Saturday night that some 40 students remained on the premises but that he expected many more to join them.


"Israel has no problem to use exaggerated force against a civilian population, but our great disappointment is from the enlightened Western world which stood aside and did nothing," said Makhoul, a second year student at the Middle East studies faculty.


Asked why the students did not protest the suffering of southern Israel's residents for the past eight years, Makhoul said he did not agree with the historic claim that what had happened in Gaza was the result of the rocket fire.


"We are in favor of security for everyone – the Israelis and the Gazans, but we protest the excessive force," he stressed.


Sderot's residents, he said, did suffer, "but as a direct result of the policy of the Israeli government, which imposed not only an economic boycott but also a diplomatic boycott on a government which was elected democratically and received legitimacy from the entire world."


פרסום ראשון: 01.25.09, 10:00
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