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Dozens of Harvard affiliates staged a sit-in Thursday morning at the Science Center Plaza to mourn Palestinian victims of the war in Israel and Gaza and protest the bombing of Jabalia Refugee Camp in northern Gaza by Israeli forces last week.
During the sit-in, which was hosted by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Graduate Students 4 Palestine, participants donned keffiyehs — traditional Palestinian scarves — and held up signs with the names of Palestinians who have been killed. For 20 minutes, students and organizers stood and read aloud the names and ages of the victims.
Last Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike struck the densely populated refugee camp — the largest of Gaza’s eight refugee camps — leaving hundreds dead or wounded, according to officials from Gaza’s Health Ministry, which is controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
A PSC organizer said the group organized the sit-in to raise awareness about the recent strikes on the refugee camp.
“Bombings are still happening in Gaza and people in Gaza, they cannot sit even in a refugee camp silently and seek refuge in what is supposed to be a safe space,” said the organizer, who The Crimson granted anonymity due to safety concerns.
In a series of statements last week, the Israel Defense Forces said the airstrikes had targeted Hamas infrastructure and killed Hamas militants, including Ibrahim Biari, who the IDF identified as one of the commanders behind the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel that left more than 1,400 Israelis dead and saw hundreds taken hostage.
Hamas denied that one of its leaders had been present in the area.
Last Wednesday, a second Israeli airstrike hit the area of the refugee camp, killing at least 80 people and leaving hundreds more injured, according to a Gazan hospital director.
Halfway through the sit-in, around noon, a person approached the event and began shouting at participants, at one point calling them “hypocrites,” prompting shouts from demonstrators.
Later, when participants chanted “Free Palestine,” the person yelled, “from Hamas.”
At the same time, counterprotesters held signs bearing Israeli flags and the faces and names of people who had been killed or kidnapped in the Oct. 7 attacks.
A second PSC organizer said they found the counterprotest “distasteful.”
“To hold that flag — the flag of a state that has gone on the record as killing the civilians and disobedience we were mourning — while we’re mourning those civilians, strikes me as in extremely poor taste,” said the second organizer, who The Crimson granted anonymity for safety concerns.
“They are free to counterprotest as they choose, as long as they’re not disrupting us,” they added.
The first PSC organizer said they found it “heartwarming” to see passersby participating in the demonstration.
“It just goes to show that at every PSC event over the past three weeks, the community continues to sympathize with the people that are being killed on a daily basis, and our attendance continues to rise, and that solidarity with Palestinians is on the rise,” they said.
The second PSC organizer said they were “excited” about the turnout at the sit-in.
“We’re happy that the University community and the greater Boston community remain mobilized around this issue,” they said. “It’s worth noting that it’s not going to demobilize anytime soon, just like we’re not going to demobilize anytime soon.”
—Staff writer Madeleine A. Hung can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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