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NYPD holds briefing after clearing anti-Israel agitators from Columbia University building

Columbia University authorized NYPD officers to remove occupying protesters from the school's Hamilton Hall, which had been taken over for nearly 24 hours.

New York City's law enforcement leaders delivered an update Wednesday morning, hours after sweeping through the historic Hamilton Hall at Columbia University and clearing out a group of anti-Israel agitators who had "occupied" the building as part of their ongoing demonstrations.

Police finally stormed the structure after school administrators repeatedly retreated from enforcing deadlines demanding the groups dismantle their campus encampment over the past two weeks. Columbia University officials finally threatened the group with expulsion after students smashed their way into the school's Hamilton Hall and "occupied" the building.

"Students occupying the building face expulsion," school spokesman Ben Chang declared in bold letters in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LOCKS DOWN CAMPUS BUILDING FOLLOWING OVERNIGHT MUTINTY: ‘EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY’

The blunt warning came about 12 hours after photos showed a mob of masked and keffiyah-clad demonstrators broke into the building, barricaded the doors and took it over.

"The work of the University cannot be endlessly interrupted by protesters who violate the rules," Chang said.

"Continuing to do so will be met with clear consequences. Protesters have chosen to escalate to an untenable situation – vandalizing property, breaking doors and windows, and blockading entrances – and we are following through with the consequences we outlined yesterday."

COLUMBIA STUDENT DESCRIBES CAMPUS FEAR, ANTI-ISRAEL SIGNS SUPPORTING TERRORISTS WHO ‘PUT BABIES IN AN OVEN’

Outside the occupied building, a group of like-minded activists linked arms and demanded the university bend to their requests that it divest from Israel-related companies and promise not to punish students involved in the demonstrations.

Critics have widely condemned the controversial encampments, which have cropped up at Columbia and other major university campuses, as an antisemitic display that threatens the safety of their Jewish classmates.

SPEAKER JOHNSON CALLS OUT CAMPUS ANTISEMITISM AS COLUMBIA'S ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTERS SHOUT AT, HECKLE HIM

The school said it had already begun issuing suspensions and that seniors singled out for that punishment won't graduate on time.

"This is about responding to the actions of the protesters, not their cause," Chang said. "As we said yesterday, disruptions on campus have created a threatening environment for many of our Jewish students and faculty and a noisy distraction that interferes with teaching, learning, and preparing for final exams, and contributes to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI."

Earlier Tuesday, university officials declared a lockdown as a result of the Hamilton Hall break-in.

The NYPD later revealed video evidence that "professional" protesters were on scene egging on the students.

Supporters of Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, one of the groups organizing the national anti-Israel demonstrations, insist they are carrying out peaceful protests.

However, Jewish students at Columbia and elsewhere tell Fox News Digital they are facing harassment, discrimination and physical threats.

COLUMBIA STUDENT SUSPENDED AFTER ALLEGED ‘FART SPRAY’ ATTACK DURING PRO-PALESTINIAN RALLY SUES SCHOOL

One student, who asked to be identified only with his first name, Josh, due to fears for his safety, told Fox News Digital that he could hear the protesters chanting anti-Israel slogans and beating drums well into the night.

"The scariest thing I want to emphasize is that we’ve had no idea who has been in these camps," he said. "I’ve watched, while walking home at night, people climbing over the fence, smuggling stuff in through side doors." He said some of the people he saw resembled a student he believed had been suspended in connection with the demonstrations.

ANTI-ISRAEL AGITATORS AT COLUMBIA ISSUE DEFIANT ULTIMATUM

He also played cellphone video taken over the weekend showing a group of anti-Israel agitators calling a pair of Jewish students "Zionists" and surrounding them because they were wearing Star of David necklaces.

Multiple people who said they were authorized to speak on behalf of the Columbia encampment declined to speak with Fox News Digital.

"I've had a friend who was beaten up," said Itai Driefuss, a third-year Columbia undergrad and Israeli military veteran from Tel Aviv. "It's scary. It's violent."

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a surprise attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and saw more than 200 kidnapped and held hostage. Israel's military response is still underway, and has killed thousands.

Earlier this month, another Israeli military veteran who attends Columbia filed a lawsuit accusing the school of harshly punishing him for using "fart spray" on anti-Israel activists while turning a blind eye to their antisemitic rhetoric.

Fox News' Lawrence Richard contributed to this report.

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