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campus student life

UPDATED: Palestine Solidarity Committee plants 10,000 flags to honor children killed in Gaza

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About 30 members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee placed around 10,000 white flags Sunday night in Dunn Meadow to honor the children killed in Gaza since the start of the Israel-Hamas war Oct. 7. 

Undeterred by the darkness, upper 30-degree weather or the Dunn Meadow mud, PSC members placed the flags every 14.5 inches using makeshift measuring sticks. The completed display took around 4.5 hours to create and has dimensions of 210 by 70 feet, according to PSC graduate advisor Bryce Greene.  

The display features signs with Palestinian flags and captions like “1 flag = 1 child murdered by Israel in the last 4 months.” The signs also include a number people can text to send a pre-drafted email to Congress in support of a ceasefire in the war and a QR code to a petition to reinstate IU professor Abdulkader Sinno. On Dec. 15, IU suspended Sinno, who was the faculty advisor for the PSC at the time, for violating university policy when he filled out the room reservation form for a PSC event. 

“I came out because obviously I want to express solidarity with Palestinians, especially the children, because that’s what this protest is about,” PSC member Gabe Roach said. “I think it’s important to put pressure on the university, and a big event like this is a great way to do it.” 

During a demonstration Jan. 26, members of the PSC and others protested Sinno’s suspension and demanded IU acknowledge Palestinian suffering and reinstate Palestinian artist Samia Halaby’s canceled exhibit at the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art. 

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack killed around 1,200 Israelis, and as of Jan. 25 over 25,700 Palestinian people have been killed in Gaza since, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Gaza Ministry of Health estimated Jan. 16 that more than 10,000 children have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

“This is to show the level of loss that were often put forth – these statistics, these numbers, things like that, but it becomes an abstract thing, and it becomes dehumanizing in a sense,” PSC executive team member Aidan Khamis said. “These flags are supposed to represent one life of every child.” 

Khamis, who is Palestinian, said he expects someone to interfere with the display, even though it is honoring children who have been killed.  

He said that he believes so strongly in the display not because he is Palestinian but because he is human. 

“This is to show the community that this is not an abstract thing,” Khamis said. “We hear a lot of things – that this is happening overseas, but to be human means to resonate. These are not just children. These are our children. We stand with them, and we are not going to stop standing for them and standing with their voices. We are not going to let them be forgotten, and we are here to stand for Palestinian liberation.” 

Greene said the PSC borrowed the flags from Butler University’s Students for Justice in Palestine, who created their own memorial in December. 

He said IU granted the PSC permission to use the space for one week, but he expressed uncertainty that IU would follow through, referencing IU’s denial of a room reservation for a Nov. 16 PSC event that had initially been approved. Despite the denials, the PSC held the event anyway, and about a month later, IU suspended Sinno, who had made the reservation.  

Greene said he hopes the flags allow people to visualize the human cost of the war and galvanize them into action.  

“It’s a display that’s meant to encourage reflection, and it is meant to instill outrage,” he said. “You should be outraged at the people who commit these heinous acts of violence, and you should be outraged that it continues.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the number of flags planted stemming from incorrect information from a source.

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