OA4P close Radcliffe camera encampment
Image credit: Tara Early

OA4P disband the Radcliffe Camera encampment

On Monday morning, Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) informed The Oxford Student that they had disbanded the Encampment outside the Radcliffe Camera. This was later confirmed by an Oxford Student reporter. This comes after the University threatened the protestors with legal action if they did not disband the camp by the 7th July, but promised not to “pursue disciplinary action against students in respect of their presence on the camps up to 7th July.”

As of Monday morning, the space previously occupied by the encampment is now clear of protestors and tents, and has been blocked off with fencing covered in blue material. 

The first encampment began on the 6th May outside the Pitt Rivers Museum. The second encampment, outside the Radcliffe Camera, was set up on the 19th May. Organised by OA4P, these camps echoed a protest tactic seen on US Campuses earlier in the year. Protestors took aim at the university’s alleged ties to Israel, specifically referencing university investments and academic programs. 

On the morning of 23 June, the University erected similar metal fencing around the exterior of the Pitt Rivers Encampment, blocking access, and ending a gardening event that was scheduled to take place that day. The University stated they were concerned about “damage to the lawn’s irrigation system and associated warranties, the protective membrane for the lawn and the museum collections beneath.”

Justifying the decision to end the encampment now, a representative from OA4P explained that “the specific tool of the encampment was no longer tenable because the cost that the university was imposing on us”, but they described themselves as “very confident about the movement that we’re building”. 

OA4P explained they were “incredibly frustrated with the increase in repression that has been happening, despite the fact that we’re still in dialogue with the university”. After clearing the camp, OA4P said, “approximately 25 OA4P members immediately picketed the Wellington Square Administrative Offices from 6:30am to 9:00 AM, successfully disrupting entry for the workday.” 

While OA4P confirmed that dialogue between themselves and University administration is ongoing, they said that the threat to take legal action is “concerning” and “has bearing, potentially, for the productivity of [the] dialogue”.  

In a statement released earlier today OA4P pledged to “continue to educate, agitate, build community, and contribute to the ongoing global fight for a free Palestine.”

OA4P also confirmed that the olive tree, planted outside the Radcliffe Camera during Trinity Term, was removed along “remnants of the encampment,”  by external contractors. A representative from the camp described the removal as “difficult to watch”.   

A University Spokesperson commented: “The University welcomes the disbanding of the camp outside the Radcliffe Camera. We are now assessing the state of the lawn and what further action is required to clear and restore the site.

“The University has consistently expressed grave concern about the horrific events unfolding in Gaza. As a community we hope for a peaceful end to the conflict, a permanent ceasefire, the urgent delivery of vital medical aid and food, and the safe return of all hostages. 

“Senior leaders of the University have been meeting regularly with a range of student and staff groups. We are committed to meeting with members of our community to understand and respond to their concerns, and consider how we can best contribute to rebuilding higher education in Gaza.”