Cambridge students stage sit-in over Gaza

LONDON (JTA) — Up to 100 students are staging a sit-in at Cambridge University over Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

The students have refused to leave the Law Faculty building since Friday in an action that follows similar "occupations" at more than a dozen British universities.

The Cambridge Gaza Solidarity group on Sunday issued a list of demands to the university’s authorities, including a statement condemning Israel’s military action in Gaza, divestment from companies supplying arms to Israel, at least 10 scholarships for students from Gaza and shipment of “surplus” computers to universities in Gaza. The students say they will remain in the building until their demands are met.

Over the past week, students at other British universities have staged sit-ins that have lasted nearly a week, like at the London School of Economics, or ended peacefully after a few hours, like at Oxford University.

None of the universities has issued a statement condemning Israel’s military action or committed to divesting from companies trading arms with Israel. Neither has any agreed to cancel lectures by Israelis or any other form of academic boycott.

Rather than responding to the demand for condemnation statements, university heads have expressed their support for a statement issued last week by Universities U.K., their representative body. The statement calls for “an end to the conflict in and beyond Gaza," and adds, “We are particularly aware that many of the civilian casualties have occurred in educational establishments.”

The statement concludes that “Higher education, in particular, is a global activity and we value our academic links with universities all over the world. The international nature of higher education means it is a force for understanding, tolerance and respect between peoples.”

The number of protesting students has been small — a few hundred combined at all the universities. At Oxford, for example, approximately 80 students took part in a sit-in in the library building out of more than 12,000 students that attend the university.

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