Students erect pro-Palestinian camp at Ireland's Trinity College

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Students at Trinity College Dublin protesting Israel's war in Gaza have built an encampment that forced the university to restrict campus access on Saturday and close the Book of Kells exhibition, one of Ireland's top tourist attractions.

The camp was set up late on Friday after Trinity College's students' union said it had been fined 214,000 euros ($230,000) by the university for financial losses incurred due to protests in recent months not exclusively regarding the war in Gaza.

Students' union President Laszlo Molnarfia posted a photograph of benches piled up in front of the entrance to the building where the Book of Kells is housed on the X social media platform on Friday. The illuminated manuscript book was created by Celtic monks in about 800 A.D..

"The Book of Kells is now closed indefinitely," he said in the post.

Trinity College said it had restricted access to the campus to students, staff and residents to ensure safety and that the Book of Kells exhibition would be closed on Saturday.

Similar to the student occupations sweeping U.S. campuses, protesters at Trinity College are demanding that Ireland's oldest university cut ties with Israeli universities and divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Protests at universities elsewhere have included Australia and Canada.

In a statement last week, the head of the university, Linda Doyle, said Trinity College's was reviewing  its investments in a portfolio of companies and that decisions on whether to work with Israeli institutions rested with individual academics.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s seven-month-old assault on the Gaza Strip, say health officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave. The war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253 others, of whom 133 are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

Ireland has long been a champion of Palestinian rights, and the government has pledged to formally recognise Palestine as a state soon.

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