Israeli, PLO flags
Photo: Ahiya Raved

Students protest Gaza operation

Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem university campuses become sites of heated demonstrations for and against IDF's Operation Cast Lead. Haifa students call Barak 'child killer', lecturers face off with IDF officers. Three arrested in Tel Aviv

Hundreds of Haifa University students took part in hot tempered demonstrations in the middle of the campus Monday.


On the one hand, Jewish and Arab students belonging to a leftist movement called for an end to the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and under the slogan "Diplomatic Terror" yelled out nationalistic chants and "Barak is a murderer".


On the other hand, Jewish students gathered to support the Israeli operation and called out "Death to terrorists" and "Ismail (Haniyeh) is next".


Large police and university security forces separated the two groups, which occasionally got into heated arguments with each other, and objects were even thrown from one side to another.


During the protests, an argument broke out between left-wing lecturers and IDF officers studying at the university, who were dressed in uniform and carrying their weapons.


During the demonstrations, that were held with the University's permission, students associated with Balad, Hadash and the Islamic Movement waved PLO flags, red flags and posters denouncing the operation.


"In spirit and in blood we will save Palestine", "The defense minister is a child killer", and "Fascism lives on" are just some of the slogans shouted out by the students.


Reem Khazan, a political science student, told Ynet the demonstration was against "the killing in Gaza…If we want security for Sderot, there must be life in Gaza. Let them get out of there".


When asked why she and her comrades did not protest the continued rocket attacks on Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip, Khazan said, "You can't compare a Qassam to an Apache or the shelling that is going on now."


Leftist protest in Haifa. 'There must be life in Gaza' (Photo: Ahiya Raved)


Some 200 students gathered opposite the leftist protest, supporting the operation and countering the leftists' cries with calls in favor of the targeted killing of terrorists. The protestors als sang the national anthem and waved the Israeli flag.


One of the students said a great part of the protest was directed at the fact that Arab students were demonstrating. "It's inappropriate that students that study and live here protest on campus and support the Palestinians. If they want to identify with them, let them do so in Gaza."


The Haifa University administration told Ynet the demonstrations were held with a permit and according to the students' rights law. Nonetheless, the university expressed concern for the fact that many of the demonstrators present may have come from outside of the university.


The Haifa University's student union published an announcement supporting the IDF and the Gaza operation, alongside an expression of hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.


Haifa University President Aaron Ben Ze'ev said, "The composition of the population in the university reflects the composition of the population in the State. As in other towns, including mixed towns, there have been protests following the operation in Gaza.


"There is no reason not to protest here as well. The university allows demonstrations under the frame of freedom of expression and students' rights."


Jerusalem, Tel Aviv students also protest

Demonstrations from both sides of the fence were also held in Jerusalem on Monday. In the street leading up to the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus some 200 Arab Israeli and Jewish left-wing students protested against the Gaza attacks.


Some 100 Jewish students showed their support of the IDF's operation opposite the leftists. Dozens of police officers separated the two groups.


Objectors to the operation carried the Palestinian flag and called out, "Gaza, Gaza, don't despair, we will put an end to the occupation", "God is great", and "In spirit and in blood we will save Palestine".


On the other side, slogans such as, "May your village burn", "See you in reserves" and "Take their identification cards away" were heard.

Rightists in Jerusalem. 'May your village burn' (Photo: Ahiya Raved)


Mattias Pedriba, a student carrying an Israeli flag, told Ynet, "We are here to protest against anyone who supports Hamas and is against our country. We don't care what they say, they are spitting in the well they drink from. They are a fifth column, terrorists and liars. We will not bow down to them."


Hamad, an Arab student explained why he showed up for the protest, "The people here have some nerve and this is even more annoying than what is going on in Gaza. The Israeli media does not transmit the massacre in Gaza to them, we see the dead on the Arab networks. Barak is lying to them and they will even vote for him."


In Tel Aviv University some 200 students also gathered to protest the Gaza operation outside of the campus in Ramat Aviv. Students supporting the operation also protested, and following a clash that broke out between the parties, three demonstrators were arrested.


Yaheli Moran Zelikovich and Avi Cohen contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.29.08, 16:12
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