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'Divest from genocide': Students protest Cambridge University's investments in Israeli arms firms

Trinity College has invested millions of dollars in companies involved in Israel's war on Gaza and businesses that benefit from the occupation of Palestine
Protestors outside Trinity College in Cambridge, UK. (Varsity)
Protesters rally outside Trinity College on 16 March 2024 to demand the institution divest from companies profiting from Israel's war on Gaza (Varsity)

Scores of students held a protest outside the University of Cambridge's wealthiest college on Saturday to demand the higher seat of learning divest millions of dollars from companies "arming, supporting and profiting" from Israel's war on Gaza.

Demonstrators carried signs reading "Ceasefire now!" and "Divest from genocide" outside Trinity College following a story published by Middle East Eye last month which found that the college had invested £61,735 ($78,089) in Israel's largest arms company, Elbit Systems.

Based in the city of Haifa, Elbit produces at least 85 percent of the drones and land-based equipment used by the Israeli army. The company's weapons have reportedly been used in Gaza since 7 October and are also reported to have been used in the occupied West Bank and southern Lebanon.

MEE also revealed last month that Trinity has investments worth approximately $3.2m in Caterpillar, a US-based heavy equipment company that has long been the target of boycott campaigns for its sale of bulldozers to the Israeli army.

At least one of the banners held up at Saturday's protest explicitly referenced Elbit and Caterpillar's roles in the occupation of Palestine.

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"As a world-leading educational institution, Trinity must not be investing in companies causing so much death and destruction that may amount to genocide, and instead should be supporting the College's mission of advancing education and research," the protesters said in an open letter.

Pressure has been mounting on Trinity College to divest from companies complicit in Israel's war on Gaza after the UK-based International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) issued a legal notice to the insititution warning that "officers, directors and shareholders at the college may be individually criminally liable if they maintain their investments in arms companies that are potentially complicit in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity".

On 9 March, an activist from Palestine Action spray-painted then slashed a 1914 painting of Lord Balfour at Trinity.

The incident, which was condemned by Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, is now under police investigation.

To date, more than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed and at least 70,000 wounded in Israel's war on Gaza.

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The UN announced earlier this month that 80 percent of Gaza is now uninhabitable, while the hunger rate stands at 100 percent.

The UN and several aid agencies have repeatedly warned that Gaza is on the brink of famine and have pressed Israel to allow aid in.

At least 25 people have died from malnutrition and dehydration since the start of the war, including a 10-year-old child with cerebral palsy. 

Last month, the UK joined JordanEgypt, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Germany and France in coordinating aid drops with Israel in different areas of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

However, the besieged Palestinians have said that airdropped aid quantities are too small to deal with the needs of a starving population in Gaza.

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