University of Sydney orders pro-Palestine encampment to vacate campus

University of Sydney staff have called on protesters to clear a controversial pro-Palestinian camp on campus after months of attempts to reach a peaceful resolution failed.

In protest against the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, demonstrators have occupied the site since April and are demanding that the university disclose and dissociate itself from its ties to Israel.

The Students for Palestine USyd Instagram account documented the condition of the camp on the lawn of the Sydney campus.

But now the camp is being cleared and protesters are being asked to leave while security and cleanup teams arrive.

A University of Sydney spokesman said in a statement that the camp had taken over the campus’s common area “to the exclusion of others” and that the move was forced by the protesters’ final rejection of their proposal for a peaceful resolution.

“We have been trying for several weeks to negotiate with the representatives of the camps to find a peaceful solution,” the spokesman said.

“Front yards are a shared space, and as we have said before, our shared spaces should be welcoming and inclusive to all members of our community.”

The spokesman said staff had been working with camp officials to keep the area clean and hygienic since protests began in April.

Broken items and garbage are removed from the camp and tents are not used overnight.

“We have repeatedly stated since the camp began that we support the right to peaceful protest, provided it does not lead to significant disruption to university operations,” the spokesman said.

“We view preparations for the second semester as the core business of the university and any activity that interferes with our ability to prepare as usual will constitute a significant and unacceptable disruption.”

But members of the student group Students for Palestine USyd said they had not received any notification about what lost and unattended items were removed.

“Many of our tents were randomly packed up by security personnel,” a representative of the group said in an Instagram video.

“We have also received an email from Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott asking us to vacate the camp so that the university can continue its welcoming celebrations without disruption.”

The two men – seen here standing in the rain outside the camp – say the protesters are not moving and are calling on others to help “defend” the camp.

“We need people to defend the USyd Gaza solidarity camp now! The administration and security forces are trying to claim that the camp and its tents are unattended so that they can clear the site,” says another in the video.

The Sydney camp was one of the last remaining in the country after universities across Australia stepped up their action against similar camps.

One in Melbourne was closed following an agreement with staff at the University of Melbourne.

But an Australian National University camp in Canberra was attacked by police after it refused to comply with orders to vacate.

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