Gaza: The student movement against the Israeli war spreads around the world

AFP , Ahram Online , Saturday 4 May 2024

The student anti-war movement, protesting the Israeli war on Gaza is gaining global momentum.

Student protests
A student at Washburn University holds a sign during a protest over the Gaza war at Washburn University, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Topeka, Kansas, United States. AP


Initially sparked at New York's Columbia University it has spread across the United States and transcended borders reaching cities as far as Paris, Lausanne, Berlin, Montreal, Mexico, and even Sydney, as global youths are waking up to Israeli war crimes and atrocities committed against Palestinians in Gaza.

United States

Since 17 April, a wave of pro-Palestinian protests have swept across US campuses, in around forty universities, from east to west, reminiscent of anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam War.

More than 2,000 people were arrested in the two weeks of campus protests, according to several US media outlets.

In recent days, the police have carried out a series of violent crackdowns on pro-Palestinian student encampments, such as at New York University (NYU) on Friday at the request of the establishment.

Student encampments at New York's Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) also witnessed violent crackdowns with police notably absent when counter-protestors attacked Palestine supporters.

Contrary to other institutions, Brown University (Rhode Island) agreed with the demonstrators on the dismantling of their encampment in exchange for a vote on a possible "divestment" from companies that facilitate and profit from the genocide in Gaza.

Long silent, President Joe Biden broke his silence on the nationwide campus protests on Thursday insisting that "order must prevail."


Police entered Paris' Sciences Po University on Friday to remove dozens of students staging a pro-Palestinian sit-in in the entrance hall.

Administrators had closed Sciences Po's main buildings on Friday in response to the sit-in and called for remote classes instead.

"91 people were evacuated, without incident," Paris police said after disbanding the sit-in.

Students from the university's Palestine Committee had earlier told reporters they faced a "disproportionate" response from police, who had blocked access to the site before moving in.

Protesters occupied the entrance hall in a "peaceful sit-in" following a debate on the Middle East with administrators on Thursday morning that their Palestine Committee dubbed "disappointing".

The university's interim administrator, Jean Basseres, refused student demands to "investigate" Science Po's ties with Israeli institutions.

Student protests in solidarity with Gaza remain confined to Sciences Po Paris and its regional campuses (Lille, Le Havre, Dijon, Reims or Poitiers).

Around 100 students had occupied a lecture hall at Science Po's Lyon branch late on Thursday, while a blockade at a university site in nearby Saint-Etienne was cleared on Thursday morning by police.


Police intervened on Friday to evacuate pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in front of Humboldt University in Berlin, at the centre of the capital.

Some demonstrators were expelled "by force" after refusing another proposed location, Berlin police said on social media platform X.

Berlin Mayor Kai Wegner criticized the protest on X (formerly Twitter) saying that the city did not want "situations like in the United States or France."


The pro-Palestinian student movement has established itself in several cities including Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. The first and largest camp erected, that of the prestigious McGill University in Montreal, began on April 27 and grew.

Hundreds of demonstrators have fortified their camp in recent days due to the threat of dismantling by the police.

They say they are determined to occupy the premises as long as necessary until McGill cuts all financial or academic ties with Israel.

The university administration declared on Wednesday that it wanted the camp to be dismantled “without delay”, affirming that it was a “non-negotiable” request.

The Montreal police, who say they are looking for a "peaceful" resolution to the situation, have not yet intervened to dismantle the camp.


At the University of Sydney, hundreds of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators came face-to-face on Friday. Despite some tense exchanges, the two gatherings remained peaceful and the police did not intervene.

Pro-Palestinian activists have been camped for ten days on a lawn opposite the sprawling Gothic building of the University of Sydney, a bastion of Australian academic knowledge.

Like their American counterparts, protestors want the University of Sydney to cut its ties with Israeli institutions and refuse donations from arms companies.


In Mexico City, dozens of pro-Palestinian students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the largest in the country, set up camp Thursday in the capital, chanting “Long live free Palestine!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will win!”.

In particular, they asked the Mexican government to break diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel.


Around a hundred pro-Palestinian students have occupied the entrance hall of the Géopolis building at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) since Thursday evening, demanding an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and an immediate ceasefire.

The sit-ins continued peacefully on Friday and are expected to last until Monday.


Students at Ireland's prestigious Trinity College Dublin University participated in an on-campus protest on Saturday against Israel's war on Gaza and in solidarity with Palestine.

Student activists described the protest, which began Friday, as a "solidarity encampment with Palestine", echoing similar protests on US campuses, as more global youths become enraged at the Israeli war crimes and mounting civilian toll of Israel's war on Gaza.

Laszlo Molnarfi, president of the student union, shared two posts on social media platform X showing a photo and video of dozens of students who pitched tents on one of the main squares at the university.

In the two posts on X, Molnarfi said: "Students at Trinity College Dublin have set up an encampment for Palestine, demanding that their university cut ties with Israel as per BDS principles"

He added that the demands made by the student protests are "supported by the vast majority of students and staff."

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