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Israel-Palestine war: Thousands call for end to Israel's Gaza assault during National Student Walkout Day

Thousands of students across US walked out of their classrooms in high schools and universities demanding an end to atrocities in Gaza
Columbia students at a rally at the university in support of Palestine on 12 October in New York City. They also walked out of their classrooms on 25 October (AFP)

Thousands of students across schools and universities in the US walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday, calling for an end to the US-backed assault on Gaza and US military funding to Israel. 

The National Student Walkout Day took place at 1pm local time EST and was organised by the National Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Dissenters, a new movement focused on reclaiming resources from the war industry and “reinvesting in life-giving institutions, and repairing collaborative relationships with the earth and people around the world”.

Students from over 100 universities and high schools all throughout the country took part in the walkout, including Princeton University, Columbia University, and UCLA. 

At least 1,400 Israelis were killed during an unprecedented surprise attack on Israel on 7 October by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. Israel says 222 were also taken back to Gaza as captives. Four of them have since been released. Israel responded with a bombing campaign that has taken thousands of Palestinian lives.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 6,500 Palestinians and more than 1,500 are missing, according to the Palestinian health ministry. More than 70 percent of those killed are children, women and elderly people. 

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Cornel West, a presidential candidate, took to X to say that he would be joining the walkout at UCLA.

“I’m on my way to UCLA to be in deep solidarity with all students who are in solidarity with our precious Palestinian brothers and sisters against the genocidal and barbaric attack on Gaza!” he said.

“We want freedom across the board, we want equal dignity, equal rights, and equal status for Palestinians and Israelis!"

At New York University (NYU), hundreds of students took to the street holding posters and chanting, “Free Palestine”.

“Our institutions are investing in the genocidal siege of Palestine. Their money, their words, and programs make Israel's occupation and violence possible. They try to silence us, because they need us to be afraid, confused, and divided,” the NYU SJP said in a statement.

“But we, as a united movement for Palestinian liberation, choose to dissent. We have the power and duty to force our institutions to end support for Israeli occupation.”

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Some were holding posters that said, “Shut Down NYU Tel Aviv”, in reference to the campus located in Israel. 

In 2022, just a few weeks after a landmark report by Amnesty International labelled Israel an apartheid state, students and activists at NYU started demanding that the university suspend its Tel Aviv programme, citing the Amnesty report.

"NYU cannot, in good conscience, operate an academic centre in an apartheid state while claiming in its non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy to be committed to creating an environment free of harassment and discrimination based on race, colour, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity or citizenship status," wrote Trace Miller, managing editor of the Washington Square News, NYU's independent student newspaper.

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