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War on Gaza: 82 UK universities warned of criminal liability over Israeli arms ties

The UK-based International Centre of Justice for Palestinians says university officers could be prosecuted over investments in companies whose weapons are used in war crimes
A number of universities have investments in companies supplying arms to Israel (AFP/Benjamin Cremel)

A British legal group on Wednesday warned universities in the UK they could be held criminally liable for investments they have made in companies involved in supplying arms to Israel and those who operate in illegal settlements.

The London-based International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) said it wrote to 82 British institutions warning that university officers could have committed a criminal offence if their institutions had profited from investments linked to weapons that have been used in the commission of a war crime.

In a statement, ICJP's senior legal officer Dania Abul Haj said that companies including Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, and BAE Systems, which British universities have invested in, were potentially complicit in Israel's assault on Gaza and had supplied equipment used in other Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians.

At least 34,500 Palestinians are confirmed to have been killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, the vast majority of them women and children, and a further 10,000 are believed to have been killed and are buried under rubble.

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"Investment in these companies was already morally bankrupt," Abul Haj said.

"In the current circumstances, it is beyond belief that universities, which are educational institutions, paving the way for future generations of leaders and politicians, would continue to invest in them,” she added.

The organisation added that universities have access to publicly available evidence of Israel's war crimes, but that it can also supply additional eyewitness testimonies to the institutions.

British universities have been targeted in the latest wave of pro-Palestine protests, which have involved setting up encampments on campuses across the globe.

In the US, riot police have forcibly evicted students at Columbia University in New York and UCLA in Los Angeles, amongst others.

Similar protest actions have taken place at British institutions including University College London, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Warwick.

A key student demand has been divestment from companies involved in the Israeli arms industry.

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