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Pro-Israel Mob Attacks Students in Violent Assault on Encampment at UCLA

Campus security stood aside as the mob unleashed bricks, fireworks and pepper spray, organizers said.

Pro-Israel counter-protesters lay siege on a Gaza solidarity encampment at UCLA with fireworks in Los Angeles, California, on May 1, 2024.

A pro-Israel mob violently attacked a Gaza solidarity encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles overnight Tuesday, hurling fireworks at the structure and beating demonstrators as campus security and city police stood by.

Los Angeles Times higher education journalist Teresa Watanabe reported that members of the pro-Israel mob used explicitly genocidal language as they ripped down encampment barriers, yelling, “Second Nakba!” — a reference to the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948.

At one point, a student stepped out from behind the encampment walls to confront the mob, which quickly swarmed the student and brutally attacked him while he was on the ground attempting to shield his face from the blows.

Organizers of the UCLA encampment, which — like others on campuses across the U.S. — is aimed at pressuring the university to divest from companies profiting off Israel’s war on Gaza, said in a statement that the attack was “nothing less than a horrifying, despicable act of terror” and condemned the university for doing nothing to keep students safe.

UCLA administrators have deemed the encampment “unlawful” and threatened participants with suspension or expulsion.

“For over seven hours, Zionist aggressors hurled gas canisters, sprayed pepper spray, and threw fireworks and bricks into our encampment,” organizers said. “They broke our barriers repeatedly, clearly in an attempt to kill our community.”

They added that campus security officers left the scene of the violence “within minutes” and “external security the university hired for ‘backup’ watched, filmed, and laughed on the side as the immediate danger inflicted upon us escalated.”

“Law enforcement simply stood at the edge of the lawn and refused to budge as we screamed for their help,” the statement continued. “The only means of protection we had was each other. We keep each other safe.”

The passivity of campus security and Los Angeles police in the face of violence from the pro-Israel mob at UCLA drew comparisons to the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians are regularly harassed and attacked by settlers as Israeli soldiers watch — and often participate.

The Daily Bruin, which had student reporters on the scene, reported that “security and UCPD both retreated as pro-Israel counter-protesters and other groups attacked protesters in the encampment.”

“There has been a minimal police presence on campus despite multiple events of counter-protesters antagonizing the encampment since Thursday,” the newspaper added. “UCPD Chief of Police John Thomas said to The Daily Bruin that the force only had around five to six officers on duty. Officers came under attack while trying to help an injured person, and so they left.”

The inaction of UCLA security and local police contrasts sharply with the vicious crackdowns on nonviolent pro-Palestinian demonstrators at universities across the country, including Columbia University in New York City late Tuesday.

Early Wednesday, The Daily Bruin published an editorial denouncing Chancellor Gene Block for doing so little “to ensure the protection of students who exercise their rights.”

“The world is watching. As helicopters fly over Royce Hall, we have a question. Will someone have to die on our campus tonight for you to intervene, Gene Block?” the editorial asks. “The blood would be on your hands.”

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