Columbia University suspends students protesting Gaza war as they defy order to disperse

Columbia University, the epicenter of pro-Palestinian protests that have upended college campuses across the United States, began suspending student demonstrators on Monday after they defied an ultimatum to disperse.

Overnight protesters occupied a campus building, barricading themselves inside while several others formed a human chain outside, according to a video posted on social media.

"Columbia community members took back Hamilton Hall just after midnight," said the student group Columbia University Apartheid Divest in a statement.

"Taking over a building is small a risk compared to the daily resistance of Palestinians in Gaza," it said, adding the building had been renamed Hind's Hall in honor of a six-year-old girl killed during the war in Gaza.

Columbia begun suspending the students following almost two weeks of protests against Israel's war in Gaza that have swept through higher education institutions from coast to coast, after around 100 protesters were first arrested at Columbia on April 18.

In the latest crackdown, authorities at the prestigious university in New York demanded that the protest encampment be cleared by 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) or students would face disciplinary action.

"Instead, arrests are being made."

"Many have left campus, and that is a tragedy," she said.

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