The students swarmed the vehicle of British consul-general, Sir Vincent Fean, as he attempted to leave the university following a meeting with the school’s dean. Some leapt over his vehicle and tried to attack him, while others reportedly threw rocks, Israel Hayom reported.
While Fean was unhurt, a photographer from the Associated Press said that he saw a student kicking him.
The violent outburst forced Fean to cancel a speech at the school.
The students were apparently upset over Great Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration, which supported the creation of a Jewish homeland in the then British-ruled Mandate of Palestine. Israel eventually declared its independence in 1948 amidst Arab attacks, and largely without the support of the British.
“We asked the university to cancel his visit because Britain is the cause of the Palestinian tragedy,” said Taha Afghani, student leader of the Fatah group. Fatah is the Palestinian political party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Get out of Birzeit!” they yelled in English, according to the Associated Press.
“Occupation is your shame!” they shouted, in protest to Israel’s presence in the West Bank.
In a statement, Biezeit University condemned the actions of its students.
“We believe it would have been much more useful if the students had a dialogue with the guest and expressed their political views in a peaceful way,” the university said.