British Students Launch Fresh Gaza War Protest Wave Post US Arrests

British Students Launch Fresh Gaza War Protest Wave Post US Arrests
credit: brecorder

London (Parliament News) – British university students stage protests against the Gaza war following US arrests. Demonstrations and encampments erupt across UK campuses, demanding divestment from arms firms and solidarity with Palestinians.

A fresh surge of student protests and encampments are underway at UK universities in protest over the war in Gaza, after violent stages on campuses in the US where dozens have been apprehended after a crackdown by police.

Where Have Protests Emerged in UK Universities?

Protests were due to take place in at least six universities on Wednesday, including Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle, with others anticipated to follow suit, in a display of solidarity with Palestinians. Protesting students are also screaming for their individual universities to divest from arms firms that deliver to Israel and in some cases sever connections with universities in Israel.

While the direction of the protest movement in the UK in recent months has been on mass marches scheduled in London and other cities, university students have staged their protests with occupations of university buildings and protests, which have been on a smaller scale and have drawn less attention.

How Have US Arrests Sparked UK Student Protests?

However, scenes from Columbia University and other US campuses over the past few days, broadcast across the world’s media, have started renewed anger among UK students and a sense of shared solidarity. In Sheffield, a group calling itself the Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine (SCCP), a coalition of “staff, students, and alumni” from the universities of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam, formed an encampment in solidarity with Palestinians.

The SCCP expressed walkouts from lectures were due to take place, followed by a demonstration, with strategies for some students to set up tents and gazebos outside university buildings. This observed a small encampment at the University of Warwick, which began last week.

In Newcastle, an organisation calling itself Newcastle Apartheid off Campus displayed more than 40 students were currently taking interest in an encampment, with a day of events and a rally planned for 5 pm on Wednesday.

Why Are UK Students Criticizing University Collaborations?

Organisers stated students were outraged after the university signed a collaboration with Leonardo SpA, a defence and security company they argue is responsible for producing the laser targeting system for the Israel Defense Forces’s F-35 fighter jets utilised in the war in Gaza.

“Although the student union has passed motions with 95% of people in favour of calling for the university to end its ties with Leonardo, and multiple ‘Leonardo off Campus’ protests on its campus, it is clear that the university has not listened to students’ concerns,” a statement stated. The university was contacted for comment.

In Leeds, a May Day student strike for Palestine was planned; in Bristol, students at the university launched an encampment with tents and flags in protest at what they defined as the university’s “complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians”.

This most delinquent wave of action builds on earlier protests, which included student occupations of university buildings at the University of Manchester, Goldsmiths and UCL. University vice-chancellors in the UK have been maintaining a close eye on occasions on their own campuses and overseas, meeting regularly to discuss developments.

How Are UK Universities Responding to Student Protests?

A spokesperson for Universities UK, which speaks for 142 institutions, stated: “Universities are monitoring the latest information on campus protests in the US and Canada. As with any high-profile issue, universities work hard to strike the right harmony between ensuring the safety of all students and staff, including stopping harassment and supporting lawful free speech on campus. We continue to assemble regularly to discuss the latest position with university leaders.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.