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Coalition of Gaza protesters stage sit-in at University of Cambridge’s Maxwell Centre





A coalition of Cambridge climate justice and pro-Palestine groups protesting the continuing loss of life in Gaza held a sit-in and picket at the University of Cambridge’s Maxwell Centre.

Demonstrators gathered outside the facility on JJ Thomson Avenue with Palestinian flags and banners to leaflet staff, students and passers-by, while others held a sit-in within the reception area.

Protesters outside the Maxwell Centre on JJ Thompson Avenue
Protesters outside the Maxwell Centre on JJ Thompson Avenue

The participants played music, read poetry and gave speeches in a show of opposition to the work being conducted by the University’s Department of Physics research group, the Laboratory for Scientific Computing (LSC), at the nearby Cavendish laboratory.

The coalition - Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Cambridge Stop the War, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge, Just Stop Oil Cambridge, and Organisation of Radical Cambridge Activists (ORCA) - oppose partnerships between the LSC and companies such as BAE Systems (microchips produced by BAE are used in fighter jets, including the F-35, as well as helicopter rockets, artillery explosives, and artillery guidance systems), Boeing (smart bombs), QinetiQ (makes Hermes 450, the ‘workhorse’ of the Israeli military) and Jaguar Land Rover (armoured vehicles). The groups also allege that the LSO’s connection to BP and SLB (formerly Schlumberger) has continued.

Protesters outside the Maxwell Centre on JJ Thompson Avenue, 28 February, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Protesters outside the Maxwell Centre on JJ Thompson Avenue, 28 February, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

A representative of Cambridge Stop the War said: “Cambridge Stop the War has campaigned against the UK arming of Israel and supplying aircraft from our bases here in Suffolk. We call on the University of Cambridge to divest from companies that profit from the misery of others.”

An ORCA member who took part in the protest said: “If the uni is going to claim to be a ‘world-leading’ institution, we have to ask questions about the type of world it’s leading us toward.”

Cambridge coalition of protesters inside the Maxwell Centre. Picture: XR Cambridge
Cambridge coalition of protesters inside the Maxwell Centre. Picture: XR Cambridge

A member of Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “On 23 February UN experts under the remit of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) stated that ‘any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law (IHL) and must cease immediately’. The UK should revoke all licences for arms exports to Israel.”

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in retaliation for the Hamas attacks in southern Israel on October 7 which led to 1,200 deaths. Aid agencies report that half a million people in Gaza currently face starvation and all 2.3 million are experiencing acute food shortages.

The University of Cambridge and the Laboratory for Scientific Computing were contacted for comment. The protest concluded without further incident.



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