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Gazans thank US university protesters as Israel calls for students to be expelled

<i>AfP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Palestinians in Deir el-Balah stage a rally to thank pro-Palestinian student protesters in the US on May 1.
AfP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Palestinians in Deir el-Balah stage a rally to thank pro-Palestinian student protesters in the US on May 1.

By Mohammad Al Sawalhi, Abdel Qadder Al-Sabbah, Zeena Saifi, Abeer Salman and Kareem Khadder, CNN

(CNN) — Gatherings of people across north and central Gaza on Wednesday expressed gratitude to students on US college campuses who have been protesting the war in Gaza.

In Deir al-Balah, in front of Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital, doctors, nurses, and medical staff held signs with messages that included “United against genocide,” “The killing of children must stop,” and “Keep on fighting for justice.”

Dr. Saad Abu Sharban told CNN he was “over the moon” at images of protesters in other countries, because it meant “that around the world there are human beings who know what is happening here in Gaza Strip right now.”

Palestinians in Gaza have been showing support for the US protesters for several days. In several refugee camps in the Palestinian enclave on Wednesday, children could also be seen holding signs and banners with the names of different American universities where pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been held, saying “thanks for your solidarity!”

Nadia Al-Dibs, a mother whose children were holding banners behind her in Deir al-Balah, told CNN she felt grateful to the “brave students” at American universities for their solidarity with Gaza and for calling for a ceasefire.

“Arab populations haven’t cared about us, while students at American universities have felt with us, have felt the blood that spills from us, our buildings that get struck and our kids whose lives get destroyed … a thousand thanks to them,” she said.

The public appreciation from people in Gaza come amid growing controversy in the US over the campus demonstrations, which have spread across the country in recent weeks amid mounting tensions over Israel’s war on Hamas, launched after the terror group’s October 7 attack that left more than 1,200 dead.

The protests in the US are broadly aimed at demanding an end to Israel’s devastating assault in the Palestinian enclave, which has killed more than 34,000 people, according to the Palestinian health ministry, and is nearing its eighth month.

But critics say some demonstrations have crossed the line into anti-semitism. Israel has claimed the protests are being manipulated by “outside agitators.”

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan denounced the university demonstrations in a speech to the General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

Erdan accused the demonstrations of being made up of “antisemitic protesters affiliated with outside agitators.” He said the students should face expulsion, while university professors and presidents should face “swift and severe action.”

The speech in the General Assembly followed a Security Council vote last month on a resolution that would have recognized a Palestinian state. That vote was vetoed by the US.

Erdan lashed out at his UN colleagues, accusing the General Assembly of spreading anti-Israel rhetoric which he claimed had helped galvanize the protesters. He yelled “shame” toward the countries seated in the hall.

Several colleges have recently hardened their stance by calling in law enforcement to clear their campuses – a crackdown hailed by former US President Donald Trump as “a beautiful thing to watch” at Columbia University in New York.

Meanwhile, Shiraz university in Iran’s Fars province has offered scholarships to students from universities in the US and Europe who are expelled over the protests.

Additional reporting by Artemis Moshtaghian and Richard Roth.

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