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An encampment outside the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where students were protesting against the war in Gaza, is being dismantled.

The protest camp was established on May 6 by students advocating for Gaza. On Sunday morning, Oxford University fenced off the area "in preparation for returning it to public use" and to "avoid further damage to the lawn."

Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) called this move a "blatant attempt to intimidate and shut down peaceful protest" and left the site on Tuesday morning. One protester told the BBC they had no choice but to leave after being "trapped" for 48 hours and losing access to bathrooms and toilets.

Tractors, vehicles, and workers have been seen dismantling the camp. The BBC has reached out to the university for comment on these actions.

The protest follows Israel's military campaign in Gaza, launched in response to Hamas' cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, which resulted in about 1,200 deaths and 252 hostages being taken. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 37,590 people have been killed in Gaza since then.

Protesters claimed the university "capitalised" on a "moment of transition" while they were off-site preparing to turn part of the camp into a community garden. One protester accused the university of "spending more time talking about the health of grass and the lawn than of 40,000 dead Palestinians."

A university statement described the lawn as an "important space" for visitors to enjoy and emphasized the need to "remove any hazards" and prevent damage to the irrigation system and the museum's protective membrane and collections beneath. The university stated that campaigners were informed multiple times that the gardening event could not proceed, necessitating "urgent action."

However, OA4P claimed the fences were erected "with no prior communication." Campaigners who worked on the community garden on Monday night described the results as "beautiful" and left the site shortly after. Footage on social media shows the garden being demolished by a loader tractor.

The university said it fenced off the area "in preparation for returning it to public use" and to prevent further damage.

Protesters have also demanded the university disclose all finances and overhaul its investment policy. The institution expressed respect for the protesters' "right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful protests" and "profound sympathy for those suffering in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank."

In addition to the campsite protest, OA4P began a sit-in at university offices in Wellington Square on May 23, resulting in several arrests. Other pro-Palestine demonstrators forced the university to cancel some end-of-year exams after occupying buildings. Photo by Ethan Doyle White, Wikimedia commons.