Community members and UC Santa Cruz students gathered Monday for two events in support of Palestinians affected by decades of Israeli occupation as Israel goes to war with militant group Hamas. The events, organized by UCSC Students for Justice in Palestine, included a march, rally and vigil, with some attendees expressing solidarity and hope for peace.
About 500 community members and UC Santa Cruz students attended two events Monday on the school’s campus for Palestinians who have been killed under decades of Israeli occupation. They also called for peace and freedom for Palestinians.
More than 300 attended a march and rally at noon from Quarry Plaza to McHenry Library, and about 200 gathered for a vigil at Quarry Plaza in the evening.
Jenin Jubran, whose Palestinian grandparents were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, said the fight for peace has been a long and heartbreaking one. But as a Cabrillo College student, she felt supported when she learned about the rally and vigil taking place at UCSC.
“I’ve been fighting for my people and for Palestine, since I was a little kid,” she said, adding that now as a 20-year-old, it’s traumatizing to continue to see the suffering. “So, to find these little communities that I can be a part of, it’s easier to find solace in it.”
The events were organized by the UCSC Students for Justice in Palestine group, whose board members, for fear of retaliation, requested that they remain anonymous and not have their photos taken. A board member told Lookout the group has about 30 to 40 active members and that they’ve felt an outpouring of support from other student groups on campus for Monday’s events.
Mahi Rahman, a fourth-year UCSC computer engineering student, said he went to the vigil Monday night to show solidarity for his Palestinian friends and their loved ones.
Rahman, who came to the United States from Bangladesh with his family when he was 11, said while reading about the Israel-Hamas conflict he has been thinking about the lives lost in 1971 in the Bangladesh Liberation War, including his extended relatives.
“In that war a lot of innocent lives were lost,” he said. “Now when I hear stories about innocent lives being lost in that region, I connect to it because I’m connected on the level where my people have experienced something similar.”
Photo gallery: Rally and vigil for Palestinians
Dean of Students Garrett Naiman as well as several faculty members attended the vigil, which started with a performance by three musicians to honor the victims. The musicians stood side by side in front of a Palestinian flag that lay on a wooden pallet next to a boulder in the middle of the plaza. Organizers placed Palestinian flags and signs including some that read “UCDIVEST” and “Land Back” on the boulder.
Several speakers who didn’t want to identify themselves said they appreciated the crowd for showing their support. They spoke about feeling hopeless, but also about the resilience of Palestinians and hope for peace.
The latest round of violence erupted Oct. 7 after the militant group Hamas broke through the border into southern Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, the deadliest single day in Israel’s history. Since then, Israeli missile strikes have killed more than 2,700 Palestinians.
United Nations officials have raised concerns about a deepening humanitarian crisis for Palestinians following the Israeli military’s order for about 1 million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate south as the Israeli military prepares for a ground invasion.
The order came days after Israel began pounding the densely populated Gaza Strip with missile strikes and cut off water, food, fuel and medical supplies to the area, which is home to more than 2 million people.
President Joe Biden was preparing to travel to Israel on Wednesday as the U.N. has called on Israel to reverse its evacuation order, saying it’s impossible to move so many people and that it will have catastrophic consequences.
While it’s been very difficult to witness the ongoing violence, Jubran, the Cabrillo College student, said she felt some hope on Monday.
“I really feel like this time around, and especially attending that protest today, I feel like something’s different,” she said. “For the Palestinian people, something will change and they will have peace soon.”
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