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Photos: US police clear pro-Palestinian camp from California university

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Police in the United States have taken back a lecture hall from pro-Palestinian protesters who for hours occupied the building at the University of California, Irvine, and then cleared a student encampment that stood for more than two weeks.

Officers from about 10 law enforcement agencies converged on the campus on Wednesday after university officials requested help because protesters had occupied the lecture hall, leading the school to declare it a “violent protest”, police and university officials said.

About four hours later, police ejected the demonstrators from both the lecture hall and the plaza that had been the site of the encampment, according to the university.

It said all classes would be held remotely on Thursday and asked employees not to come to campus.

The demonstration at Irvine, about 65km (40 miles) south of Los Angeles, is the latest in a series of campus protests across the United States over Israel’s war in Gaza with students calling for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians while demanding universities divest from Israeli interests.

UC Irvine protesters had established an encampment adjacent to the lecture hall on April 29 similar to those at other universities that have led to mass arrests and clashes with police elsewhere in the country.

On Wednesday, between 200 and 300 protesters took over the lecture hall at a time when no classes were in session.

Since the day the encampment was set up, Chancellor Howard Gillman said the university has been in talks with students but was unable to reach an agreement to find an “appropriate and non-disruptive” alternative site.

Gillman has said the university cannot selectively decide not to enforce rules against the illegal encampment and that it had “made it clear it will not divest from Israel”.

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