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Credit: Ethan Young

This story is developing and will continue to be updated. Read all of our coverage of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and protesters’ demands here.

The Gaza Solidarity Encampment expanded onto the east side of College Green Wednesday evening, nearly two weeks after the encampment first began.

At around 7:30 p.m., members began moving barriers and at least eight tents onto the east side of College Green as a crowd of 200 people chanted “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.” Immediately after the encampment expanded, dozens of Penn Police strike force officers and members of the Philadelphia Police Department — with riot helmets — moved close to the encampment. The police presence has since decreased. 

The encampment is demanding that Penn divests from Israel, corporations that benefit from the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, and Israeli institutions committing “scholasticide.” It also demands that Penn defend Palestinian students, including granting amnesty to students involved in pro-Palestinian activism and reinstating Penn Students Against the Occupation of Palestine.

A 7:35 p.m. Instagram post by Penn Students Against the Occupation of Palestine said that the encampment had expanded as a result of "the administration’s continued bad-faith negotiations in our meeting this afternoon."

Just yesterday, an encampment spokesperson called their meeting with Penn administrators "very optimistic" during a press conference. The spokesperson also said that Penn had referred nine students for disciplinary action due to their involvement, bringing the total number of encampment organizers facing discipline to 12.

“Penn continues to focus on the safety of our campus, including expanding security presence in response to the expansion of the encampment, despite our efforts to resolve this situation,” a University spokesperson wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Following the expansion of the encampment, several individuals — including students and professors from Rutgers and Stockton universities — delivered remarks, while an organizer also gave an “update from the ground on what is happening in Gaza” to the gathered crowd, describing Israel's impending invasion into Rafah, a city in Gaza. 

Rutgers University professor Noura Erakat spoke about ongoing violence perpetrated by Israel during its invasion into Rafah and criticized Israel for targeting a population that is mostly children.

“Israel is not inadvertently killing babies, it is targeting children,” Erakat said. “It is deliberately attempting to prevent a Palestinian future. It is deliberately trying to erase a Palestinian past.”

A library worker for the City of Philadelphia spoke at the rally and criticized Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) — who represents University City — for failing to put adequate pressure on President Joe Biden.

“[Evans] has refused to use legislative power to push Biden to understand Philadelphia does not stand with genocide,” the speaker said before telling those assembled to call Evans and “make his life hell.”

Earlier this evening, a crowd of 100 people arrived near College Green following a “Workers & Students Unite!” march, which began at Clark Park at 6 p.m. before heading towards Penn’s campus. 

Those who marched — flanked by officers from the Philadelphia Police Department — held a variety of signs, including some reading “never again for anyone,” and “Jews for Palestine” while chanting “Disclose, divest, we will not rest,” and “There is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“Our own government is too busy sending billions of dollars in aid to a foreign government, which in turn is responsible for the forced displacement, starvation, and sickness of nearly two million Palestinians,” a student said during the march. “Students and workers are rising up to say enough is enough.”

The march arrived on campus as an “Interfaith Song & Prayer Circle” was concluding inside the encampment. A crowd sang and prayed while a group of counterprotesters positioned across Locust Walk sang Am Yisrael Chai, a Hebrew prayer for Israel.

A UPennAlert was sent to the University community at 7:37 p.m. warning of a “large demonstration in the area of College Green.” An updated alert was sent at 9:42 p.m., telling the community that a "large crowd remains" on College Green. 

Multiple buildings around College Green have increased security measures or are locked down as of time of publication, including Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center and Fisher Fine Arts Library.

The expansion of the encampment prompted criticism from College senior Eyal Yakoby and Perelman School of Medicine professor Benjamin Abella — both of whom have organized events in opposition to the demonstration. They also criticized the lack of action from Penn and government officials, posting the link to a second petition addressed to Jameson, Provost John Jackson Jr., and the Board of Trustees demanding the “immediate removal of the encampment."

In a post on Instagram, the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee criticized the drawing of an inverted red triangle on the forehead of the Ben Franklin statue in front of College Hall earlier this evening. The symbol has previously been documented in use by the pro-Palestinian movement, by the military wing of Hamas, and by the Nazis.

"This is a symbol utilized by Nazis," the group wrote in an Instagram story post. "Enough is enough. These Hamas, terrorist supporters should not be allowed on our campus."