Student groups hold discussions, demonstrations in response to Gaza violence


As the conflict intensifies, Penn for Palestine, Hillel and other groups are planning events on campus




Student groups are mobilizing on campus in response to the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas across Gaza.

This week, the conflict intensified, with both sides firing rockets at each other since Wednesday. So far, 18 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have been killed, according to The Washington Post. Over 750 rockets have been launched from Gaza at southern Israel this year.

Among those killed by Israeli strikes is Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari, who was killed in a bombing attack on his car Wednesday, The New York Times reported. Two rockets fired from Gaza reached Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Penn for Palestine is planning a silent demonstration on College Green today at 10 a.m. called “Stop the Killing in Gaza.”

The group’s silence symbolizes that it is “standing with the voiceless,” said College sophomore and Penn for Palestine member Clarissa O’Conor. “We’re here for the human beings who have no one to speak on their behalf.”

The different pro-Israel groups on campus have planned their own sets of response to the attacks, which are being called the most violent since 2009.

Hillel president and College senior Alex Jefferson said Hillel will have a table on Locust Walk by the Compass today from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students will be able to get fact sheets and write cards to Israeli victims and soldiers.

“[Our project] will give people … a chance to feel part of something and not just let it go by reading articles, but to really feel like they’re supporting something,” he said. “Our main goals are to just to give an opportunity for the many students across campus who are invested to have the ability to support Israel.”

Penn’s J Street co-president and College senior Leanne Gale will be providing resources for students so they can learn more about the conflict.

“We want to contextualize the current situation in the broader history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, most importantly, to give students the tools to look at the situation in the context of advocating for a two-state solution,” she said.

J Street and Hillel are in the midst of planning group discussions Monday night for students to talk about the issues surrounding the conflict.

Penn Friends of Israel president and College junior Noah Feit said PFI will be hosting 60-second lectures during lunch at Hillel to explain updates coming out of the region. They aim to mobilize those on campus with a “strong connection to Israel” to share talking points with others.

“We want to make people capable of responding to criticism [and] capable of answering their friends’ questions on important issues,” he said.

Most of the groups are emphasizing dialogue across campus to better understand the situation.

“Something we don’t want is for the crisis to become a way of polarizing the campus between two mutually exclusive camps,” Gale said. “What we want is to give students an opportunity to talk about what a constructive peace would look like.”

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