Groups at several U.S. universities are staging protests in support of Palestinians in Gaza as Israeli airstrikes continue.
Israel’s military action follows the deadliest attack on the country in decades. Hamas militants streamed into Israel early on Saturday morning, killing hundreds of people and taking dozens hostage in a multi-pronged offensive.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel’s operation against Hamas “will be remembered by them and Israel’s other enemies for decades to come.”
On the same day, Israel announced a full siege of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas’ political wing. Food, fuel and other supplies are being blocked in the enclave of 2.3 million people.
More than 1,200 people have been killed in Israel since Saturday, Reuters reported, citing the Israeli military. Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza have killed 1,055 people, the news agency said, citing Palestinian officials.
The violence in the region has led to tensions rising on college campuses across the U.S. Here students are expressing support for the Palestinian cause:
More than 30 student groups at Harvard signed a statement blaming Israel for the violence.
The students “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” said the statement, issued by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups.
Saturday’s attack “did not occur in a vacuum,” the letter said. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.”
The “apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” the statement added. “Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years.”
The letter was rebuked by some on social media, including former Harvard president Larry Summers, who was Treasury secretary in the Bill Clinton administration.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Harvard president Claudine Gay said she “condemn[ed] the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.”
“Such inhumanity is abhorrent, whatever one’s individual views of the origins of longstanding conflicts in the region,” she said.
She added that while Harvard students “have the right to speak for themselves, no student group—not even 30 student groups—speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”
The Palestinian Solidarity Committee announced a peaceful counterprotest at the same time supporters of Israel were rallying on the Indiana campus in Bloomington on Monday.
The two groups waved their flags and yelled at each other for about 20 minutes while separated by a police line, according to the Indiana Daily Student newspaper.
“We just stand for peace, it’s an emotional conflict,” a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee at the university told the newspaper.
“We don’t represent Hamas, and we don’t condone the actions of Hamas. But we also don’t condone the actions of the Israeli military. We do not want to see Palestinian children or Israeli children killed in this siege. It is a tragic event, and we hope things deescalate as soon as they can.”
Arizona State University
The group Students for Justice in Palestine at Arizona State University held a meeting on Sunday.
In a post on Instagram, the group said the event in Tempe Beach Park was used to “learn about the Palestinian liberation struggle against the U.S. and Israeli war machine.”
A rally is planned for Thursday outside the college’s student union.
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California State University Long Beach
Dozens of students from the university attended a rally in support of Palestinians on Tuesday.
They gathered on the campus quad, then marched through campus chanting “Free Palestine” and “Occupation is a crime,” the Long Beach Post reported.
Multiple student clubs at the university, including the La F.U.E.R.Z.A Student Association, promoted the protest on social media.
They sparked a backlash for a flyer that featured a paraglider—Hamas employed paragliders to get some militants over the border between Gaza and southern Israel.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The UNC Students for Justice in Palestine group has used a similar flyer to promote a protest on the campus on Thursday.
The rally will take place in front of the Wilson Library at 11 a.m., according to a post on the group’s Instagram page.