Palestinians in Gaza express gratitude for protests on US campuses

Thousands of miles from the campus protests that have divided Americans, some displaced Palestinians are expressing solidarity with anti-war protesters and gratitude for their efforts.

Messages of support were written on some tents in the southern city of Rafah, where about a million displaced people have sought refuge from Israeli shelling and ground fighting that Gaza health officials say has killed more than 34,000 people.

“Thank you, American universities,” read a message captured on video by the Reuters news agency. “Thank you, students in solidarity with Gaza, your message has arrived,” read another neighbor.

Tension has risen on campuses across the United States, with police in riot gear arresting dozens of people at Columbia University on Tuesday night and officers across the country clashing with pro-Palestinian protesters who have set up camps and seized academic buildings in other institutions. Protesters have called for universities to divest from companies with ties to Israel, and some have vowed not to back down.

The protests have come at a particularly frightening time in Rafah, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to launch a ground invasion of the city to root out Hamas battalions, despite glimmers of hope for a temporary ceasefire.

The Palestinians “are very happy that there are still people who are on our side,” said Mohammed al-Baradei, a 24-year-old recent graduate of Al-Azhar University's dentistry program who spoke by phone from Rafah.

“The special thing is that this is happening in America and that people are still aware and awareness is growing every day for the Palestinian cause,” he added.

Akram al-Satri, a 47-year-old freelance journalist taking refuge in Rafah, said Gazans “look with hope and gratitude to the student movement in the United States.”

“For us this is a glimmer of hope nationwide,” he added in a voicemail Wednesday.

Bisan Owda, a 25-year-old Palestinian who has documented the war on social media, said in a video posted to her more than 4.5 million Instagram followers that the campus protests have brought her a new sense of possibility.

“I have lived my whole life in the Gaza Strip and I have never felt hope like I do now,” Ms. Owda said.

Nadir Ibrahim contributed reporting and video production from London.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *