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Pro-Palestinian protestors occupy Edinburgh University’s Main Library

The ‘sit-in’ was part of a series of pro-Palestinian marches held since October


Pro-Palestine protestors occupied the University of Edinburgh’s Main Library from 3pm on Friday, waving flags and holding placards reading “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” while chanting “Israel is a terrorist State.”

Organised by the Justice for Palestine Society (JPS) Edinburgh, the “sit-in” was part of a series of pro-Palestinian marches held since October, in response to the escalating conflict in Gaza and Southern Israel.

Speakers at the protest criticised the University of Edinburgh’s response to the conflict, accusing the university of exhibiting a biased stance, noting its prompt statement after the 7th October attacks but alleged silence on condemning Israel’s military actions.

Protest organisers distributed leaflets reading “End the University of Edinburgh’s Investment in Israeli Apartheid,” including links to a petition demanding transparency in how tuition fees are invested.

The JPS has been vocal in its criticism of several of the University of Edinburgh’s investments, alleging that these investments indirectly support Israel’s military operations.

A protestor told the Edinburgh Tab: “We wish to have a say in what our tuition fees are invested into.”

JPS members claimed to have contacted Peter Mathieson previously, encouraging him to divest the university of companies that support Israel. Mathieson allegedly responded saying he had no knowledge or power over investments, which prompted the JPS to take further action.

“Know their names”: Protestors rolled out a scroll inscribed with the names of Palestinians who have died in the conflict.

A JPS spokesperson said: “This was in stark contradiction of the response to the Russia-Ukraine war, in which the university immediately divested. So, this is a clear demonstration of the double standards and the lack of dignity and respect given to the Palestinian lives lost over the past 40 days.”

One protestor commented that “Palestine is not getting justice,” with another expressing that “we must continue speaking out against the university being complicit.”

Protestors also condemned this week’s parliamentary vote where MPs voted 293 to 125 against the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “We know this is an incredibly challenging time, and it is vital that we show mutual respect and compassion for each other. As a community devoted to learning and the pursuit of knowledge, we can play an important role in deepening understanding and we want to ensure our campus is a safe space for peaceful, respectful and empathetic dialogue.