Before Prentice’s statement yesterday, university communications had simply stated “our thoughts are with everyone affected by recent events”Alex Parnham-Cope

The University released its first explicit statement on events in Israel and Gaza yesterday evening, after an open letter accused Cambridge of being “silent” on Hamas “brutality” earlier this week.

Vice-chancellor Deborah Prentice, writing almost a week after violence started on Saturday (07/10), said the university is “deeply saddened” by the “loss of innocent lives in Israel” and condemned actions by Hamas as “brutal attacks”.

Over 110 students and staff signed the open letter, co-authored by Israeli student Einav Grushka, which urged the university to condemn the “unthinkable brutality of Hamas against innocent civilians.”

The unprecedented attack launched last weekend by Hamas, a Palestinian organisation of Islamist militants, killed at least 1,300 people 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.

Before Prentice’s statement yesterday, university communications to students had simply stated: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by recent events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East”.

But now, the Vice-Chancellor has written a response directly to those involved with the open letter, promising “that the welfare, wellbeing, and safety of our staff and students are, and will remain, our priority”.

“At this moment of deep shock and hurt for Israeli and Jewish members of our community, and in the face of such atrocities, you have my sincerest sympathy and solidarity”, Prentice continued.

VC Prentice also stated that the University Security Section will be on “alert” to “ensure heightened awareness of any activity that might make members of the Jewish community feel unsafe”.


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According to the vice-chancellor, university security will do “proactive patrolling” and “work with local institutions, including the Police”.

The vice-chancellor’s statement also said the university is saddened by “the impact of the escalating violence in Gaza”.

Since the Hamas attacks, retaliatory Israeli airstrikes have killed 1,900 people and a “complete siege” of Gaza has left food, fuel, and water supplies running out.

Earlier today, Israel told 1.1 million Palestinians that they have 24 hours to leave northern Gaza before an expected ground offensive, in an evacuation order that the UN has called “horrendous”.

Vice-chancellor Prentice said that the university has “reached out” to both “Jewish and Palestinian groups” and met with “student representatives”.

“We will continue to engage with them and with other members of the Jewish and Palestinian communities at Cambridge going forward,” Prentice said.