Oxford and Cambridge students set up pro-Palestinian camps outside university buildings

Oxford and Cambridge university students have set up pro-Palestinian encampments on campus lawns.

They were started outside King's College in Cambridge and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

The "liberated zone encampment" at Oxford University consists of tents erected on sodden ground, with dozens of protestors slushing through mud for teachings on Palestine and "well being circles", Sky News correspondent Shamaan Freeman-Powell, who is at the scene, reports.

"Come rain or shine, we will free Palestine" they chant.

There's a food tent serving hot meals, a medical site for emergencies and workshops for arts and crafts.

Kendall Gardner, a Jewish student at the university, told Sky News she was "really inspired by the events that have been happening across the world".

"The US started a global chain of student activism for Palestine," she said.

"We have six demands for this protest - the top line is to demand closure of all university-wide financial assets that benefit Israel.

"We will stay here until those demands are met. I brought a big bag, I have everything a girl could need."

According to the Oxford for Palestine organisation, the demands include the following: disclose university-wide assets, divest university-wide assets, overhaul investment policy, boycott institutional relationships, drop Barclays bank and rebuild and reinvest.

Ms Gardner said protesters had "every intention of keeping things peaceful".

"I am actually Jewish and I have never felt safer on campus than I have with this community of people," she said.

"The last few months have been really hard for me personally. I am horrified of what is being done in my name and it has been so comforting for my community members - most of who are Arab, Muslim and Palestinian - to say my culture has nothing to do with what has been going on in Gaza."

An Oxford University spokesperson said: "We are aware of the ongoing demonstration by members of our university community.

"We respect our students and staff members right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful protests. We ask everyone who is taking part to do so with respect, courtesy and empathy.

"Oxford University's primary focus is the health and safety of the university community, and to ensure any impact on work, research and learning, including student exams, is minimised. As we have stressed in our student and staff communications there is no place for intolerance at the University of Oxford."

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The university added that the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum remained open.

Many students across the UK have started to gather in protest against the war in Gaza, with encampments set up in cities including Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Leeds.

As well as the encampment which started on Monday, pro-Palestinian students had already disrupted open days at the University of Cambridge in recent days.

Demonstrators told prospective undergraduates and their families they would be "complicit in Israel's genocide" in Gaza if they applied to Trinity College.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied his country is committing genocide, saying the case brought to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this year was "outrageous".

He also vowed to continue the military action that began after the Hamas attack on 7 October.

"We will continue to do what is necessary to defend our country and defend our people," Mr Netanyahu said after an ICJ ruling compelling Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide.

"Like every country, Israel has an inherent right to defend itself."

In response to Monday's demonstrations, the University of Cambridge said it was "fully committed to academic freedom and freedom of speech within the law" and said it acknowledged the "right to protest".

"We ask everyone in our community to treat each other with understanding and empathy," it said. "Our priority is the safety of all staff and students.

"We will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia and any other form of racial or religious hatred, or other unlawful activity."

The wave of university protests in the UK follows a series of violent clashes at campuses across the US, most prominently at Columbia University in New York.

Protest groups in the UK have called on their universities to divest from Israel in response to its military operation in Gaza.

This would mean selling off stock in Israeli companies or otherwise dropping financial ties.

Encampments have also been set up in recent days in France, Ireland and Finland.