Prime Minister and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu has said the complete siege on Gaza has 'only just begun'Wikimedia Commons

Over one hundred students and staff have signed an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor condemning the University’s “vague response” to Hamas attacks in Israel.

The open letter accuses the university of being “silent” on “a day that saw the largest number of Jews killed in 24 hours since the Holocaust”, and demands that the university condemn the “unthinkable brutality of Hamas against innocent civilians.”

Pro-vice-chancellor for education, Professor Bhaskar Vira, wrote to students yesterday saying: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by recent events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East”.

This comes after Saturday’s unprecedented attack launched by Hamas, a Palestinian organisation of Islamist militants, which saw fighters break out of Gaza and massacre 260 people at an Israeli music festival. At least 900 people have reportedly been killed in Israel.

Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the EU and the UK, as well as other powers, although this is sometimes only the case for its military wing.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has since ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza in retaliation, cutting off food, fuel, electricity and water supplies. Israeli airstrikes have killed almost 770 Palestinians, in a response that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said has “only just begun”.

The Pro-VC’s email linked to university support systems, available to students as normal, but offered no condemnation or specific mention of the violence in Israel and Gaza.

The letter states its signatories have “spent countless hours calling loved ones, worrying over the hundreds of missing persons” and are “deeply disappointed” by the university’s response.

The letter also states that all Israeli and Jewish citizens in the UK “feel threatened by the cries for pro-Palestinian demonstrations supporting Hamas’ actions, the vandalising of Jewish businesses and harassment of visibly Jewish people.”

Demonstrations in London last night saw a large police presence as pro-Palestinian protestors gathered outside the Israeli embassy.


Mountain View

University releases response to Israel-Gaza attacks

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said extra police patrols are being carried out to reassure Jewish Londoners.

According to the open letter, there has been a “sickening support for the systematic murder of Israelis”, a trend it claims is “also developing among students and societies within the University itself.”

The Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Society (Palsoc) also issued a statement on recent events earlier today, saying: “recent escalations did not occur in a vacuum” and the “root cause of recent and tragic civilian deaths” is “the apartheid Israeli regime” and “its sixteen year long siege on the Gaza strip and brutal military occupation”.

Discussing the announcement of the “complete siege” on Gaza, Palsoc said: “We are deeply concerned by this policy of collective punishment and indiscriminate violence”.

Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Society also criticised the university, stating that “offering thoughts and emotional support will continue to feel hollow” so long as it has “ties and formal links with companies complicit in supporting Israel’s blatant violations of international law”.

The open letter also said its signatories “empathise deeply with the plight of the Palestinian people” and expressed sadness that “these days their suffering is only worsening.”

This year has been the deadliest on record for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Since Netanyahu returned to office in late December with one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history, the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank have heightened tensions and driven international scrutiny.

But according to the open letter, “Hamas’ actions endanger both Israeli and Palestinian citizens alike” and the university must “speak out against the violence” committed by the militant group.