At opposite ends of Locust Walk on Friday morning, Penn for Palestine and the Penn Israel Sector responded to the ongoing violence in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.
Starting at 10 a.m., Penn for Palestine hosted a silent demonstration in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue on College Green. About 20 participants stood in rows in front of the statue holding signs displaying phrases such as, “Hold all war criminals accountable.”
Penn for Palestine encouraged those who came to the demonstration to wear black.
“It’s a sign of mourning for the innocent lives lost,” Penn for Palestine member and College sophomore Clarissa O’Conor said.
The conflict is changing by the hour. On Friday, Israeli troops moved near the edge of Gaza, possibly readying for a ground invasion. A missile fired from Gaza struck near Jerusalem for the first time since 1970, according to The Washington Post.
Seventy-two Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed so far, the BBC reported on Sunday.
Many of those standing in solidarity on College Green were not Penn for Palestine members, according to O’Conor.
School of Arts and Sciences doctoral student Andrew Korn saw the event via Facebook in the morning and decided to participate.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to bring awareness … to campus about what’s going on,” he said. “[We want to] try to allow people to wake up and realize the issues at hand.”
College senior Meghna Chandra participated to “make a statement about injustice and human rights issues.”
“It’s important to support the Palestinians,” she said.
Some passersby turned to look at the protest or take pictures. Several said encouraging words, while one yelled, “Go Israel” as she passed. One person in a Guy Fawkes mask ran by, pulled out a small Israeli flag, waved it and left, according to Chandra.
Around the same time across from Huntsman Hall, Penn Israel Sector — the pro-Israel umbrella group of Penn Hillel that encompasses organizations such as the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee, J Street U and Penn Friends of Israel — set up a table covered in Israeli flags. Group members handed out informational papers on the situation in Gaza and gave students the option of writing messages on a whiteboard.
Just before 11 a.m., the group had about 30 people stop by to express support.
“This is a place for people to feel the need to express support on this issue and feel the need to be doing something,” College sophomore and PIPAC Electoral Coordinator Josh Spector said. “It’s not to protest.”
Penn Hillel is in the midst of planning additional discussions about the conflict on Monday evening.
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