A protest organized by pro-Palestinian activists against a guest lecture by a former member of the Israeli advocacy NGO StandWithUs at University College London turned violent, as lecture participants were forced to lock themselves in and eventually fled the scene in tears escorted by the police.

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Police forces were summoned to University College London (UCL) yesterday (Thursday) after pro-Palestinian activists carried out a violent protest during a lecture by an Israeli speaker. According to eyewitnesses, the lecture participants were forced to lock themselves inside the lecture hall in fear of the 100-or-so activists who came to protest against the visit of Chen Mazig, a former member of the Israeli advocacy NGO StandWithUs, at the college campus.

Mazig’s visit was initially cancelled as a result of the protests against it but it was later decided to hold it nonetheless after security forces at the London campus changed the location of the lecture twice. Mazig, who served as an officer at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories IDF unit, was planned to speak to the students about his experiences as a soldier. But pro-Palestinian activists gathered outside the hall in which he was scheduled to lecture even before his arrival, chanting slogans such as “From the sea to the river, Palestine will be freed” to the sound of beating drums. Three of the protesters even managed to force their way into the lecture hall and were evacuated by the campus police.

Mazig spoke in front of a crowd of around 25 students for about 20 minutes while the protesters banged on the hall doors and made noise. Two of the lecture participants filed a complaint to the police after they were allegedly hurled at the doors on their way out. Later on, the police officers at the site personally escorted the remaining lecture participants on their way out.

“I am surprised that I am their target, of all people, considering my message of peace and coexistence,” Mazig stated in response to the incident. “It was very hard to speak with all that noise. After the lecture, the police escorted me outside and I was told to run as fast as I can. I was scared more than I was during my military service.”