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Arrests in New York, violent attack in California as protests rage on Gaza campus | Israeli War on Gaza News

Demonstrations against Israel's war on Gaza continued at universities across the United States. The night ended with mass arrests in New York and an attack by counter-protesters in California.

In New York, the NYPD said it arrested 282 people at Columbia University and the City College of New York from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. This came as police cleared students who had occupied Columbia University's Hamilton Hall since April 30.

The building was named “Mandela Hall” when students undertook a similar action in support of the liberation of South Africa in 1985. This time, protesters named the building “Hind's Hall” in honor of six-year-old Hind Rajab, who was killed along with her family by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Columbia University student journalist Meghnad Bose told Al Jazeera he was inside the university gates when he witnessed police “arresting pro-Palestinian protesters who were properly lined up.” [in front of] the gates to prevent the NYPD from coming in.”

“I've seen firsthand the police breaking up these protests, arresting them and sometimes acting quite aggressively to make sure the protesters leave,” he said.

In a post on

He said police were “dispersing the unlawful camp and those barricaded in university buildings and restoring order.”

Meanwhile, pro-Israel counter-protesters at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) attempted to dismantle a pro-Palestinian encampment, with witnesses saying the attackers threw objects at demonstration participants.

Sergio Olmos, an investigative journalist reporting from the UCLA campus, told Al Jazeera he saw several hundred counter-protesters trying to tear down the walls of the pro-Palestinian camp.

He described counter-protesters trying to beat the pro-Palestine demonstrators with sticks and, in some cases, throwing glass bottles.

Witnesses said the incident lasted about two hours. In a post on

Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reported from Los Angeles and said that despite the violence, “the camp is still there and the student protesters have stood firm despite this attack. They have not fled.”

“This has happened before, albeit on a smaller scale; For example, the camp was similarly attacked over the weekend, particularly on Sunday night,” he said.

Ongoing protests

Protests have been frequent on U.S. campuses since the Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 and throughout Israel's nearly eight-month war in Gaza, which has killed 34,568 Palestinians and left the enclave on the brink of famine.

However, the recent surge in demonstrations began nearly two weeks ago with outrage over Columbia University President Minouche Shafik's testimony before a U.S. Congressional committee in which critics claimed she kowtowed to lawmakers while addressing students left out at the university.

Among a range of demands, several protest movements have called on their schools to divest from Israel or weapons manufacturers linked to the war. They have accused administration officials across the country of exploiting public safety and making disingenuous claims of “anti-Semitism” to crack down on protests.

Recent arrests also included 14 protesters at Tulane University in New Orleans, as well as arrests at the University of South Florida and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The protests have resonated far beyond the borders of the United States.

On Wednesday, Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, said she was “appalled by the violent actions of police at U.S. universities to crush protests against ongoing genocide by a foreign country.”

In a post on X she said: “Such a dystopian reality. May students and faculty be safe. May the genocide come to an end. May justice and reason prevail.”

In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass called the violence at UCLA “absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, for his part, defended the police actions and claimed that the Columbia protest was “led by people not affiliated with the university,” a claim that police have not yet confirmed.

“There is a movement to radicalize young people. And I’m not going to wait until it’s finished to acknowledge its existence,” Adams said.

Meanwhile, the group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) condemned the actions of both the NYPD and Columbia University.

Stefanie Fox, the group's executive director, said the school was once again on the wrong side of history as it was “wrong in its suppression of the student anti-war movement of 1968 and once again wrong in its suppression of the student movement against South Africa apartheid.” 1985.”

Anna Harden

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