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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

Palestine Solidarity Committee holds vigil for Palestinians killed in Gaza

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About 200 people attended a vigil Friday evening in Dunn Meadow to honor the Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza as a result of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.  
 
The hour-long demonstration was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Committee. Speakers stood in front of the 10,000 white flags planted last week by the PSC to represent the number of children killed in Gaza since the start of the war.  

On Oct. 7, the militant group Hamas killed around 1,200 Israelis. Since then, over 27,000 Palestinian people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry on Feb. 2. The Gaza Ministry of Health estimated Jan. 16 more than 10,000 children have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7. A Feb. 3 estimate from Euro Med Monitor determined more than 13,500 children have been killed in Gaza. 

The PSC obtained separate permits from IU administration to place the flags and to hold Friday night’s vigil, PSC graduate advisor Bryce Greene said. 
 
“We don’t have enough flags to capture what’s going on,” Greene said. 
 
PSC members and supporters gave speeches calling for justice, an immediate ceasefire and an end to U.S. financial support for the war. On Jan. 26, the International Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling stating there was “plausible” evidence Israel was violating some parts of the 1948 Genocide Convention, ordered Israel to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza and prevent acts of genocide, but did not order a ceasefire.  

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A sign written by the Palestine Solidarity Committee commemorates child victims of the Gaza conflict Feb. 2, 2024, at Dunn Meadow in Bloomington. Each flag represented a child's death.

The ICJ case, which was initiated by South Africa, is ongoing. It may take several years for the court to issue a final ruling on the allegations of genocide. The ICJ has ordered Israel to submit a report within the next month about measures they have taken to comply with the 1948 Genocide Convention.     

 “Every time an innocent is killed, all of us loses a part of our soul,” Greene said in a speech Friday. “This wouldn’t happen but for the billions and billions [of dollars] the U.S. gives Israel.”  
 
Aidan Khamis, a member of PSC’s executive board, cited 95% of the world’s population on the brink of starvation are currently located in Gaza.  

“They are my brothers and my sisters because they are human,” Khamis said. “Standing up for Palestine means standing up for humanity.”   
 
Miral Alabed, a PSC member, spoke about her family members in the West Bank.  

“They tell me how hard it is to go to work, school and university every day. The usual twenty-minutes drive is taking them an hour and a half, if not more, due to the checkpoints in every village and road,” Alabed said. 
 
Sarah Alhaddad, a member of PSC’s executive board, said she felt a connection to familiar first names among lists of the dead.  

“I see long lists with names of martyrs and see the many people who share first names with my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and friends,” she said. “I am so much closer to them than I think.”  
 
Yusuf Awad, who told Indiana Public Media he has lost 36 family members in Gaza, acknowledged in a speech that he initially had difficulty finding words to address the vigil’s crowd.  

“What more do I have to talk about after all these videos?” Awad said, referencing graphic footage of the wounded and dead in Gaza circulating on news and social media.  
 
Awad said the results of current activism may not be immediate, reminding audience members that Martin Luther King, Jr. faced significant opposition for his civil rights activism during his life but was widely celebrated following his death.

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A kite with writing is held up in the air at a vigil for Palestinians killed in Gaza on Feb. 2, 2024, at Dunn Meadow in Bloomington. The flags in the background represented the deaths of Palestinian children.

“Know that the results will be there, and our time will come,” Awad said. 
 
Several speakers discussed domestic issues related to freedom of speech and academic freedom. In recent months, college student protestors with pro-Palestinian views have been “doxxed,” doused with a chemical agent called “Skunk” and had job offers rescinded.  
 
Ben Robinson, a professor in IU’s Germanic Studies department, criticized universities throughout the country who are “trying to gaslight the liquidation of Gaza into a question of campus security.”   
 
On Nov. 15, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana wrote a letter to IU President Pamela Whitten suggesting the university could lose federal funding over a “failure to combat campus antisemitism.” Banks specifically referenced a PSC protest and requested reports of antisemitic incidents following the group’s activities.  
 
IU has since suspended then-PSC faculty advisor Abdulkader Sinno, a political science and Middle Eastern studies professor, on Dec. 15. The administration alleged that Sinno violated university policy when he incorrectly filled out a room reservation for a PSC event, and after IU denied the reservation, the group proceeded to hold the event. At a Bloomington Faculty Council meeting Jan. 16, some faculty countered that the university violated its own disciplinary policy when it suspended Sinno.  
 
On Dec. 20, five days after Sinno’s suspension, Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art Director David Brenneman informed Palestinian artist and IU alumna Samia Halaby that a long-scheduled retrospective exhibit of her art would be cancelled over unspecified “security threats.” That decision was met with national attention in outlets including The New York Times and ArtForum. As of Feb. 3, more than 15,000 people signed an online petition demanding reinstatement of the exhibit, and an event celebrating Halaby’s art and life will now be held at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Feb. 17. 
 
Serena, an attendee at the vigil who declined to provide her last name out of concern for her family’s safety, said there has been “100%” more turnout at PSC events in Bloomington in the last few months.   

“This is the first time I’ve seen support like this,” she said. 

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