Pro-Palestinian activists hack apart and spray paint on historic Cambridge University painting

Pro-Palestinian activists hack apart and spray paint on historic Cambridge University painting

WATCH: The moment the painting of Lord Arthur James Balfour is destroyed

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 08/03/2024

- 15:29

Updated: 08/03/2024

- 17:32

The group targeted the painting of Lord Arthur James Balfour

A group of pro-Palestine activists have targeted a historic painting at Cambridge University.

Protesters from the Palestine Action group destroyed the painting by Philip Alexius de László of Lord Arthur James Balfour inside Trinity College, Cambridge.

The group targeted the painting, claiming that it symbolised the "bloodshed of the Palestinian people since the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917."

Lord Balfour was the Foreign Secretary who signed a letter known as the Balfour Declaration which ruled the British government's support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people in Palestine."

\u200bThe painting was targeted by an activistThe painting was targeted by an activistX/@pal_action

A spokesperson from the group said: "Arthur Balfour, then UK Foreign secretary, issued a declaration which promised to build 'a national home for the Jewish people' in Palestine, where the majority of the indigenous population were not Jewish.

"He gave away the Palestinians homeland, a land that wasn’t his to give away.

"After the Declaration, until 1948, the British burnt down indigenous villages to prepare the way; with this came arbitrary killings, arrests, torture, sexual violence including rape against women and men, the use of human shields and the introduction of home demolitions as collective punishment to repress Palestinian resistance."

A spokesperson from Cambridgeshire Police told GB News: "This afternoon we received an online report of criminal damage today to a painting at Trinity College, Cambridge. Officers are attending the scene to secure evidence and progress the investigation. No arrests have been made at this stage."

A Trinity College spokesperson told GB News: "Trinity College regrets the damage caused to a portrait of Arthur James Balfour during public opening hours. The police have been informed. Support is available for any member of the College community affected."


A spokesperson from the group added: "The British were initiating the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, fulfilling the Zionist aim to build their ‘home’ over the top of what were Palestinian communities, towns, villages, farms and ancestral land, rich in heritage, culture and ancient archeological history.

"The Palestinians refer to this time as the Nakba — which translates into the great catastrophe. In 1948, the Zionist militia, trained by the British, forced over 750,000 Palestinians into exile, destroyed over 500 villages and forced those who remained to live under a brutal reign of occupation."

It is not the first action taken by the group, who are calling for the shut down Elbit Systems, who they claim to be Israel’s largest arms supplier.

In November, they laid down in front of vehicles outside a property in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

Lord Walney, the Government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, said: "This is outrageous.

"We must not tolerate protestors thinking they can get away with senseless damage because they think the importance of the cause gives them the moral high ground to cause mayhem. A number of recent judicial rulings have been troubling in this regard."

Earlier today, head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said a maritime aid corridor could start operating between Cyprus and Gaza this weekend. It comes as part of accelerating Western efforts to relieve the humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave.

Israel has said any ceasefire must be temporary and that its goal remains the destruction of Hamas, the militant Islamist group that Israel says killed 1,200 people and abducted 253 in a rampage into its territory on October 7.

In response, Israel launched a ground offensive and aerial bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip which had killed at least 30,878 Palestinians and wounded 72,402, the Hamas-run enclave's health ministry said.

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