Pro-Palestinian activists riot as London university hosts ex-Shin Bet chief
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Pro-Palestinian activists riot as London university hosts ex-Shin Bet chief

Protesters set off fire alarms, hurl chairs as they try to break into King's College Israel Society event featuring Ami Ayalon

Pro-Palestinian activists bang on the windows of an Israel Society event featuring former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon at King's College, London on January 19, 2016 (screen capture: Facebook)
Pro-Palestinian activists bang on the windows of an Israel Society event featuring former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon at King's College, London on January 19, 2016 (screen capture: Facebook)

A demonstration against a pro-Israel event at a prominent British university turned violent Tuesday, as pro-Palestinian activists set off fire alarms, hurled chairs and reportedly assaulted one of the Israel Society organizers.

Police were called to the King’s College, London event where former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon was scheduled to give an address; the British government called the riot “totally unacceptable.”

Protesters reacted to being shut out of the overcrowded conference room where the event was being held, banging on windows, chanting “Free, Free Palestine” and setting off fire alarms across the building, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

No arrests were made. Police say one woman was hit by a protester but there were no injuries.

Ami Ayalon in 2008 (photo credit: Olivier Fitoussi /Flash90)
Former Shin Bet chief, Navy commander and MK Ami Ayalon (Olivier Fitoussi /Flash90)

Esther Endfield, one of the organizers of the event, said on Facebook that she had also been assaulted during the protest.

A student from the London School of Economics who attended the event told the JC that, “The room was ambushed: banging on the windows, waving flags, bashing the door. You could hear screaming. It was really quite frightening inside.”

Britain’s Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson condemned the riots.

“Our universities should be safe spaces for students to expand their minds, and there can be no justification for violent intimidation that curtails free speech,” he said.

I really hope that the violent and intimidating nature of the protest last night will not stop future events like this from happening on campus. Here is some of my footage from last night

Posted by Russell Langer on trešdiena, 2016. gada 20. janvāris

The Union of Jewish Students blasted the incident, but stressed that the riots were the behavior of a “loud minority.”

“The KCLSU Israel society were hosting an event about peace and were greeted by violence and intimidation,” the union said. “The fact that the police had to be called by the university in order to protect students from fellow students is a disgrace.”

In a tweet, Baroness Susan Williams, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK’s Department of Communities and Local Government, also condemned the violence.

The Israeli Embassy in London told the Chronicle that the incident was “shocking and shameful.”

The university has launched an investigation into the incident, the paper said.

“Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception. The safety of our students, staff and the general public is paramount to us and we are committed to acting as a responsible organization,” the school said in a statement.

“[V]iolent protest is totally unacceptable and that we expect [students] to be tolerant and respectful of others’ views and opinions.”

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