Students maintain pro-Palestine encampment in US capital for second straight day

Pro-Palestine students continued their encampment at George Washington University (GW) campus in the heart of the US capital on Friday, despite widespread crackdowns on university protests across the country.

Students from various Washington-based universities, along with academics and activists, gathered at GW campus for a second day to express solidarity with Palestinians and demand that their universities divest from financial ties with Israel.

The students established the encampment on GW’s university yard early Thursday, located just over three blocks from the White House.

Protests are sweeping college campuses nationwide following a police attempt to clear a pro-Palestine encampment at Columbia University, resulting in the arrest of over 100 students.

Police erected barricades around the encampment in early hours of Friday, restricting access to the area. However, students remained steadfast, refusing to leave until their demands are met, while others continued their protests outside the camp.

In an interview with Anadolu, Selina Al Shihabi, a 20-year-old undergraduate student at Georgetown University, said the students are demanding their universities to immediately divest from companies “that are supporting the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and are actively contributing to this genocide.”

“We demand that it stops. And in solidarity with the people of Gaza, we have created camps to demonstrate how people in Gaza have lost their homes, and are currently now living out of tents,” she explained.

“We don’t plan to leave until the university divests,” she stressed.

Samar Saeed, a PhD student at Georgetown University, called for an “end to the Israeli genocide in Gaza,” highlighting the US role in funding the conflict in the Palestinian enclave.

“This genocide has been funded by the US. And we’re here to remember that Israel has destroyed all the universities in Gaza,” she said. “They have killed professors, students and staff.”

Besan Jaber, a Palestinian-American graduate student, pointed to the US’s role in the Israel’s war on Gaza, saying: “This is a US war.”

“And that’s something we I think the majority of us here truly believe that. Our messages for our universities as academic institutions were demanding that they’re not complicit, and they have no ties at all,” she said.

“The message is clear, it is disclose, divest, and boycott. We need to know what kind of financial ties do they have, they need to disclose everything,” she added.

Protests have been reported at a wide array of campuses from California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt; Yale University; University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; Swarthmore College and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; the University of Rochester in New York; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Emerson College in Massachusetts and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Israel has waged a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7, which Tel Aviv said killed around 1,200 people.

More than 34,300 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and nearly 77,300 injured amid mass destruction and severe shortages of necessities.

(Source: AA)