People are handed food portions at a public kitchen in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip
People are handed food portions at a public kitchen in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. AFP

In a crackdown against pro-Palestine protesters, the University of Melbourne and three other universities on Thursday warned the students they will take disciplinary as well as police actions if the ongoing protests were not called off and encampments not disbanded at the earliest.

The University of Melbourne canceled all the classes since Wednesday noon after hundreds of protesters began a sit-in protest at the Arts West building. The students renamed the building "Mahmoud's Hall" after a Palestinian, who had enrolled to study in Australia, and was killed with his family in Gaza, The Guardian reported.

The university has rescheduled 150 classes, a spokesperson for the university stated.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Prof Michael Wesley, said management's patience was "now at an end" and the protesters may face disciplinary action under the university's codes of conduct and criminal charges if they defied police orders.

"We are in ongoing discussions with the police. They are advising us about how we keep this situation under control and they are giving us advice about how we might move forward to end the protests in the occupation," Wesley said. "There could be criminal charges if [activists] continue to defy the orders of the university and the orders of Victoria police, and if they refused to leave peacefully then we will have to go down the more forceful route."

The Victoria police stated the university was "presently managing the situation" and had not asked the police to intervene or remove the protesters. The Victorian politicians, meanwhile, responded that the University of Melbourne would be within its rights to act against the protesters, ABC News reported.

Other universities, too, have threatened students with disciplinary action if they did not call off the ongoing protests.

Deakin University

At Deakin University, students ignored a second order from the management to disband their pro-Palestine encampments, and vowed not to move out until their demands were met.

"It is gross hypocrisy for Deakin to talk about safety while carrying out explosives and guided weapons research for one of the world's largest arms companies," organizer Jasmine Duff said. "What about the safety of people in Gaza?"

About 200 people attended a rally held on Wednesday evening in solidarity for Palestine, The Guardian reported.

Monash University

Nine students, who have been accused of using loudspeakers to threaten a pro-Israel student, claimed the university has threatened them with suspension or expulsion. They also accused pro-Israel activists of entering the protest area and assaulting the students, ABC News reported.

Students have to give their response by May 20.

A Monash University spokesperson said staff were reviewing and investigating the complaints, and a number of "formal notices of student misconduct" had been issued.

Reacting to the management's warning, student Josiah Downey said the university has their demand to snap ties with Israeli institutions and weapons manufacturers, instead it chose to "persecute students who are peacefully standing against the genocide."

Queensland University

At the University of Queensland, a brief scuffle broke out, on Thursday, during the sit-in protest. A group of protesters occupied the engineering building for several hours, temporarily restricting access and disrupting teaching.

A spokesperson for UQ said the vice-chancellor has been interacting with students to find a peaceful resolution to the protests.