Gaza war protesters occupy university building

Protesters outside Newcastle University
About 50 students have barricaded themselves inside a Newcastle University building, while more protest outside [BBC]

Students protesting against the war in Gaza have barricaded themselves inside a university building.

The protesters had occupied an area outside of Newcastle University but have since moved inside the Armstrong Building.

A number of police officers were at the scene on Wednesday.

The university said the occupation was being treated as trespass and "those involved would face disciplinary action".

Northumbria Police said it was "liaising with all relevant parties".

A spokesperson said: "Our over-arching priority is to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance, including the protesters, members of the public and our officers."

'Two months'

About 50 people have occupied the building in Queen Victoria Road, which houses a number of subjects, while a group of about 100 gathered outside the campus.

The Newcastle Coalition Apartheid Off Campus group said: "After four weeks of peaceful protest we've escalated our action today by taking the joint decision to occupy the Armstrong Building at Newcastle University."

The protesters have called on the university to cut ties with defence companies and Israeli universities, and for it to call for an "immediate, unconditional and permanent ceasefire in Gaza".

A spokesperson, who did not wish to be named, said people had "barricaded" themselves into the building because "our demands have not been met", and added protesters were "prepared to stay here for as long as two months".

The spokesperson for the Newcastle Coalition Apartheid Off Campus group
Protestors denied their use of masks on university grounds would intimidate Jewish students [BBC]

He claimed protestors had "already seen security become violent" - claims which were refuted by Newcastle University.

The protestors also denied their use of masks on university grounds would intimidate Jewish students.

"If any student is feeling intimidation we want to adjust that and we want to do some outreach for them," the spokesperson said.

The Jewish Society at Newcastle University and the Union of Jewish Students have been contacted for comment.

'Unacceptable behaviour'

Newcastle University said its security team was "dealing with the situation" with the assistance of police.

"While we respect students’ rights to peaceful protest, unauthorised occupation of university property is trespass," a spokesperson said.

"We wish to be clear that this behaviour is unacceptable and those involved could face disciplinary action."

The university added it does not "tolerate the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause, distress".

Protesters entering the building
The protesters barricaded themselves inside Newcastle University's Armstrong Building on Wednesday [BBC]

The protest is one of a number of pro-Palestinian demonstrations taking place at universities around the UK, including Manchester, Leeds, and Goldsmiths in London.

They followed on from similar protests in the US, where more than 1,000 people have been arrested during demonstrations.

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