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Felix

The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Felix

Issue 1850 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London


Keep the Cat Free


Palestine activists drop banners from windows at Exhibition Road Festival

Banner drops and ALERT statue demonstration part of weekend activities scheduled to coincide with public science fair.

Gaza Protest Banner 1 Photo: IC Liberated Zone

News

in Issue 1850

Pro-Palestinian activists dropped banners from windows on Imperial’s South Kensington’s campus during a science festival on Sunday, in protest of the university’s links to companies that work with the Israeli military.

In the early afternoon, with the Great Exhibition Road Festival in full swing, the students unfurled banners from upper levels of the Sherfield Building and the Dyson Building, which faces Exhibition Road.

Nearby on Imperial College Road, they draped the ALERT statue with bunting composed of Palestinian flags.

In a statement published on Instagram, the group – part of the encampment on Queen’s Lawn – said: ‘The goal of this action was to call public attention to the relationships Imperial College has to companies that enable the ethnic cleansing and the genocide of the Palestinian people.’

Gaza Protest Banner 2 Photo: IC Liberated Zone
Palestine activists dropped banners from a Dyson Building window (above) on Sunday

Since establishing the encampment a month ago, students have held events including banner-making sessions, teach-outs, and poetry nights.

The demonstration last Sunday was part of a weekend of activities scheduled to coincide with the Great Exhibition Road Festival, a celebration of science and the arts that is held in South Kensington and open to the public.

An encampment representative said: “People came to see Imperial and regard it as a great institution. [The festival] was a great opportunity to state the facts of what this institution does and the genocide it is complicit in.”

Israel has denied accusations of genocide, made in the wake of its retaliatory attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas killed around 1,200 people in Israel and took a further 251 hostages in attacks on 7th October last year. Israel’s subsequent military campaign has killed over 37,000 people in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials from the Hamas-run health authority.

Over the past two weeks, the Queen’s Lawn encampment has grown to 25 tents and now covers both sides of the Dangoor Walkway. Students pitched 10 tents when they set up the encampment in May, all of them on the side closest to Queen’s Tower.

Encampment representatives claimed that 45 people stayed in tents on Queen’s Lawn last week at an ‘all out camping’ night. The group had put out a call for students to ‘Camp with us… for our biggest night yet’.

The activists have called on Imperial to cut ties with engineering companies such as BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Caterpillar Inc., which have supplied technology to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

In an Instagram post on Monday, the activists claimed that BAE Systems had dropped out of an Imperial-run careers fair ‘following determined opposition for students’. BAE Systems has been approached for comment.

BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have designed parts of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, a stealth combat jet that the IDF has deployed in the Gaza Strip.

Both companies say that they abide by defence export controls.

In January a spokesperson for BAE Systems told Felix that the company was ‘horrified by the situation in Israel and Gaza and the devastating impact it’s having on civilians in the region and we hope it can be resolved as soon as possible. We respect everyone’s right to protest peacefully. We operate under the tightest regulation and comply fully with all applicable defence export controls, which are subject to ongoing assessment.’

A spokesperson for Rolls-Royce said: ‘Rolls-Royce supports the UK Government and its allies in providing power solutions for defence purposes. In doing so, we abide by all applicable export control and sanction laws. In the UK, those regulations demand that exports are considered against a range of criteria including relevant international law.’

Caterpillar has supplied armoured bulldozers to the IDF, which has used them to bulldoze Palestinian homes. The company did not respond to a request for comment from Felix in January. It has previously responded to similar criticism by saying that it ‘shares the world's concern over unrest in the Middle East’ but has ‘neither the legal right nor the means to police individual use of [its] equipment’.

Imperial wrote to student activists two weeks ago, telling them that it recognised ‘the profound human suffering’ caused by the war in Gaza.

Responding to their demands for divestment, the university said that its investments are made in accordance with its Socially Responsible Investment Policy, which makes it a ‘signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment’.

It added that its research relationships are governed by its Relationships Policy, legislative requirements, and the provisions of the National Security & Investment Act 2021.

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