Pro-Palestinian demonstrations spread to Australian universities with encampments appearing on campuses

Protests in support of Palestine that have swept university campuses across America have now become global with pro-Palestinian encampments popping up at numerous universities in Australia. Images captured hundreds of activists rallying around tents set up on the campus of the University on Friday calling for the institution to divest from companies with links to Israel. “Once you understand what is going on you have a responsibility to try and get involved and raise awareness and show solidarity,” one attendee told Reuters. He was identified as a 39-year-old father who brought his 2-year-old child to the scene to demonstrate that it is not just students protesting the war in Gaza. At a counter-protest several hundred yards away, a crowd gathered around Australian and Israeli flags and listened to speakers who said the pro-Palestinian demonstrations are making students and staff feel unsafe on campus, according to Reuters. “There’s no space for anybody else, walking through campus chanting ‘Intifada’ and ‘from the river to the sea’ it does something, it’s scary,” one speaker reportedly said. Other encampments have popped up at universities in the cities of Melbourne and Canberra, Reuters reports. University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Mark Scott said Friday that there was space for both groups of protesters. “They may strongly disagree with the matters that have been discussed. … We can host that conversation and we should be able to do that in a non-threatening way,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Scott said not all of the protesters were students, and that some might not be committed to peaceful and productive engagement. “We are working with security and police,” he added. At one point there was a scuffle between the two groups at the University of Sydney, the Associated Press reported, citing ABC, but added that both sides later backed off due to security.