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Attendees at the University College London (UCL) event were forced to remain in a lecture room after hearing a talk by Israeli activist Hen Mazzig, as they waited for police outside to escort them

Attendees at the University College London (UCL) event were forced to remain in a lecture room after hearing a talk by Israeli activist Hen Mazzig, as they waited for police outside to escort them

Dozens of police officers were called to one of the country’s top universities to quell a “violent” anti-Israel protest which left Jewish students barricaded in a room, after being told their safety could not be guaranteed if they left alone.

Attendees at the University College London (UCL) event were forced to remain in a lecture room after hearing a talk by Israeli activist Hen Mazzig, as they waited for police to escort them through the crowds of around 100 demonstrators who had gathered outside.

Police are investigating after two female Jewish students reported that they were assaulted during the evening. One was knocked to the ground when protesters broke into the lecture room through a window and jumped in, while another was pushed against a door causing her to have a panic attack.

Mazzig, a former IDF Commander, had been invited to speak by UCL Friends of Israel about his humanitarian work in the West Bank, building medical facilities, school, roads and water infrastructure.

Craig Dillon, a recent graduate from Westminster University who attended the event said the protesters were “aggressive, violent and threatening”.

“Protesters were outside chanting and banging on the windows, coming close to breaking them,” he said.

“At one point three of them forced open a window and jumped in. They were big guys. A woman tried to shut the window and they pushed her out the way and she went flying, she was crying and was distraught.”

By the end of the talk, he said there were around 30 police officers surrounding the lecture room, as well as police vans and cars lining the street. He said that police escorted the attendees out of the room, while the speaker dressed up as a security guard in a high-vis jacket and was snuck out of a back entrance

Devora Khafi, a 20-year-old student at Queen Mary University, said reported an assault to the police after a protester pushed her up against the door of the lecture room. “One girl had her back to me, she pushed with her back me against the doors,” she said.

“I was there for about two minutes. I found it really hard to breathe because more and more people were coming through from outside.” A fellow student helped Miss Khafi escape outside where she had a panic attack.

Liora Cadranel, president of UCL Friends of Israel society, said that students were left “shaken” by the evening’s events.

“At the time I and many others felt concerned for our physical safety, – we were also just in shock that an event like this all about bringing a better understanding and therefore future for Palestinians and Israelis alike could be hijacked in such a manner,” she said.

The Student Union had originally banned the talk from taking place, but after organisers appealed to the University on grounds of freedom of speech, it was allowed to go ahead.

The Board of Deputies condemned the protesters as a “hate filled mob” who support “the worst kind of extremism in the Middle East”.

“We deplore the aggressive and intimidating protests which disrupted a student event in UCL,” The Board’s vice president Marie van der Zyl said.

“It is disgraceful that in a society which values free speech, students at a top UK university cannot host an open event without being harassed.”

She said that the Board planned to raise the issue with the Home Secretary in a meeting on Monday.

Sir Eric Pickles MP said the incident was “shameful” and “provide[s] another sad insight into the levels of intimidation and harassment that Jewish and Israeli students can experience on university campuses across the UK.”

Sir Eric, who is chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, went on: “The apparent anti-Semitism lurking behind some hard-line anti-Israel ‘activists’ is a terrible indictment of the intolerance of some modern students. Free speech must be guaranteed and protected for all”.

A spokesman for UCL said: “UCL and UCLU do not condone acts of intimidation or violence under any circumstances and, as a university with a longstanding radical history, we fiercely support the right to exercise free speech within the law.

“The freedom to debate and challenge views is fundamental to the nature of a university. We also acknowledge the right to peaceful protest. We regret protestors took measures to try to prevent the event from happening but stress that the protest was non-violent.”

The university said it was supporting the police in their investigations into accusations of assault, and will consider disciplinary action against students where necessary.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called at 19:00hrs on Thursday, 27 October, to a venue at University College London in Gower Street, WC1, to reports of a demonstration.

“It was understood the demonstration related to a speaker attending a meeting within in the building. They provided a policing presence during the demonstration. Police remained at the venue until the meeting ended safely. No arrests have been made.”

Earlier this year students at King’s College London were attacked by demonstrators as it hosted invited Ami Ayalon, the former head of Israeli secret service Shin Bet.

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Ed-this is the sort of thing likely to happen (If you keep continuously “pushing your luck and taking liberties”and pulling strokes)

He calls himself Eric 'Pickles'

He calls himself Eric ‘Pickles’

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