Students establish solidarity encampments as Gaza genocide hits 200 day mark

April 29, 2024
student protest for Palestine
Students have set up Palestine solidarity encampments on campuses. Photo: Isaac Nellist

As Israel continues to threaten a ground invasion of Rafah — where more than 1 million people are sheltering from its genocidal assault on Gaza — students around the world have pitched tents at campuses to protest their universities' complicity in the genocide.

The first student encampment was set up at Columbia University in the United States on April 17, and quickly spread across the country.

Students are calling on their universities to divest from weapons manufacturers and other companies supporting Israel’s genocide.

In response, police have attacked the encampments, arresting hundreds of students and sparking community outrage and protests.

Students at the University of Sydney (USyd) and the University of Melbourne (UoM) set up encampments in solidarity with US students on April 22 and April 25. They demanded their universities scrap deals with weapons companies, Israeli universities and the US Department of Defense.

One UoM student involved in setting up the encampment said they were “camping out in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in protest of Melbourne unis ties to apartheid Israel”. 

“Our university is complicit in the ongoing genocide in Palestine and students across the world are standing up and fighting back.”


University of melbourne encampment
The University of Melbourne solidarity encampment. Photo: Jacob Andrewartha

Another student said it was important for “students, staff and union members to support the encampment”.

“We know that all universities in Gaza have been destroyed and the University of Melbourne has financial and educational relationships with some of the companies involved in this bloodshed, including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Rosebank, Boeing and many others.”

Students at the University of Queensland established a Gaza solidarity camp on April 29 and students at Curtin University in Boorloo/Perth are organising a rally on May 1 to launch their solidarity encampment. 

The encampments were hailed by speakers at the Palestine rally in Gadigal/Sydney on April 28, as thousands rallied to mark more than 200 days since Israel launched its latest genocidal attack. With the death toll in Gaza estimated to be more than 40,000, protesters called out Australia’s ongoing complicity in the genocide.

Peter Boyle reported that along with an organiser of the USyd encampment and a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, the protest was addressed by Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem-based Palestinian environmental justice activist,  who is on a speaking tour of Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand.


Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh
Palestinian scientist and author Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh speaking at the Gadigal/Sydney rally on April 28. Photo: Peter Boyle

Qumsiyeh told the rally: “As Martin Luther King said, peace means peace with justice and we are not going to get peace if we don’t work for it. Freedom is never handed on a silver platter to us…

“When I look at your diverse faces, it gives me hope because we have seen who is the enemy. The enemy is a tiny minority who control this world and profit from the deals like the deals between the military in Australia and Israel, providing weapons for genocide.”


Melbourne palestine rally
Naarm/Melbourne, April 28. Photo: Jordan AK

Chloe DS reported that the weekly protest in Naarm/Melbourne is growing in size. More than 10,000 people joined the rally on April 28. They called on the federal and Victorian governments to stop supporting the production of weapons components and break all ties with Israel. 


Melbourne palestine rally
Naarm/Melbourne, April 28. Photo: Chloe DS

Speakers included former Maritime Union of Australia Victorian branch secretary Kevin Bracken, Palestinian activist and civil engineer Basil El-Ghattis, Jiselle Hanna from Australia Asia Worker Links, Jordy Silverstein from the Loud Jew Collective and Palestinian-Australian Nada Khartabil.


Perth rally for Palestine
Boorloo/Perth. Photo: Alex Salmon

About 500 people joined the rally in Boorloo/Perth on April 27 to demand Labor end its complicity in the genocide and impose an immediate arms embargo on Israel. Protesters also called on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador and recall Australia’s ambassador from Tel Aviv. 

After hearing from various speakers, protesters marched through the city, stopping twice to stage die-ins to commemorate the Al-Shifa hospital massacres, which resulted in more than 1500 people being killed, injured or disappeared by the Israeli military.


ZIM picket in Perth
Holding the picket line against ZIM shipping in Boorloo/Perth. Photo: Sam Wainwright

Unionists for Palestine (UFP) WA organised a third community picket against Israel’s ZIM shipping company at Walyalup/Fremantle Port in Boorloo/Perth on April 28.

UFPWA organiser Riley Breen told Green Left the police attempted to intimidate picketers by targeting marshalls and organisers first, but protesters were not deterred.


die-in at Rundle Mall in Adelaide
Activists stage die-in at Rundle Mall in Kaurna Yerta/Adelaide. Photo: Jordan Ellis

Activists staged a die-in at Kaurna Yerta/Adelaide’s Rundle Mall on April 28 reported Jordan Ellis. “Israel can no longer hide its atrocities from the world. Every day, more of Israel's crimes against the Palestinians are revealed,” organisers said.

“Most recently, mass graves were found in three hospitals in the Gaza Strip containing 700 bodies … women, children and elderly Palestinians who were tortured and executed by the [Israeli Occupation Forces].” 


Jews in solidarity with Palestine banner
Jews in solidarity with Palestine. Photo: Chloe DS


Sydney protest for Palestine
Gadigal/Sydney protest for Palestine. Photo: Peter Boyle


Queers for Palestine
Queers for Palestine banner at the University of Sydney. Photo: Isaac Nellist


Melbourne Palestine placards
Naarm/Melbourne. Photo: Jordan AK


students on the steps of the state library
Victoria State Library in Naarm/Melbourne. Photo: Jordan AK


Melbourne palestine rally
Naarm/Melbourne. Photo: Jordan AK


Sydney protest for Palestine
Gadigal/Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle


University of Sydney rally for Gaza
A rally supporting the encampment at the University of Sydney on April 24. Photo: Isaac Nellist


Australia is enabling genocide
Australia is enabling genocide. Photo: Isaac Nellist


ZIM picket in Perth
'No business with genocide. Drop ZIM now.' Photo: Alex Salmon


Stop arming Israel banner
Boorloo/Perth. Photo: Alex Salmon


die-in at perth rally
Protesters staged a 'die-in' at the Boorloo/Perth rally. Photo: Alex Salmon

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