Rival Gaza Protest groups clash at UCLA During US Campus Demonstrations

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters have clashed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

As protests against the war in Gaza continue to spread throughout US campuses, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrators have battled at UCLA.

Hundreds of people have been arrested as a result of nationwide protests, and they didn’t seem to be slowing over the weekend.

According to an official, “physical altercations broke out” at UCLA after a barrier dividing the two sides was overcome.

The White House has maintained that there must be no violence during the protests.

A National Security Council spokeswoman told ABC that the US government recognised the freedom of demonstrators to express their disapproval of the Israel-Gaza conflict.

However, John Kirby told ABC on Sunday that it reiterated its denunciation of “all the hate speech and the threats of violence out there” in addition to the recorded antisemitic occurrences.

Both the pro-Palestinian camp and the pro-Israeli counterprotesters at UCLA have grown in number in recent days.

The counter-protest was coordinated by the Israeli American Council (IAC). It expressed “profound concern” recently about antisemitism that had been documented elsewhere, particularly at Columbia University.

In an effort to disassociate themselves from antisemitic attacks, several pro-Palestinian demonstrators have placed the blame for some of these incidents on foreign agitators.

The two groups at UCLA didn’t start fighting until Sunday, according to the Reuters news agency, when they were broken up by campus police brandishing batons as they pushed and shoved and threw punches.

Which party broke past the barrier separating them was not immediately apparent.

The institution released a statement saying, “We are heartbroken about the violence that broke out,” and noted that more security had been added as a result.

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Following the October 7th Hamas attack, which claimed over 1,200 lives in Israel, and the subsequent Israeli military offensive that left over 34,000 dead in Gaza, tensions erupted among US institutions.

Over the past two weeks, there has been a widespread revolt that has proven difficult for law authorities and university administration to quell. Outside groups have been held accountable for infiltrating the demonstrations.

The arrest of over 100 demonstrators at Columbia University in New York City after police were summoned to disperse an encampment appears to have given the movement additional clout.

Since then, hundreds of people have been detained in various areas from coast to coast in the United States; many of them having set up their own tents on campus.

Protesters are calling for a stop to hostilities and for their institutions, many of which have substantial endowments, to sever their financial connections to Israel, or divest.

According to them, institutions who invest in Israeli enterprises are also involved in the country’s ongoing war on Gaza, as do businesses that do business in or with Israel.

In response to reports of antisemitic events, authorities have also hurried to address concerns raised by several Jewish students regarding their safety.

There have been reports of events at other schools, involving anything from physical altercations and perceived threats to shouts and posters endorsing Hamas, a terror group that is prohibited in the US.

In a statement released on Saturday, Boston, Massachusetts’ Northeastern University condemned “virulent antisemitic slurs” and said that “professional organisers with no affiliation to Northeastern” had infiltrated a student protest.

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It also stated that around 100 persons were being held.

In more recent advancements:

  • Among hundreds of other activists arrested over the weekend was Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who was detained with about 80 others at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri
  • Protesters at Yale University set up a new encampment after a previous one was cleared by police, the student newspaper reported
  • California State Polytechnic University has become the latest institution to request that students switch to virtual classes

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