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Gaza students thank pro-Palestinian protesters at US college campuses


Dozens of Palestinian students and children showed solidarity at a demonstration in southern Gaza on Sunday to express gratitude for the support seen on U.S. college campuses in recent weeks.

Video from the Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah shows children holding banners with messages saying: “Columbia University students, continue to support us” and “Violating our right to education and life is a war crime “.

Students gathered around makeshift tents near a school that now serves as a shelter for displaced Palestinians from northern Gaza. Footage shows people painting messages of gratitude on tent fabric. “Thank you, students in solidarity with Gaza. Your message has reached us,” one of the messages reads.

Takfeer Abu-Yousuf, a displaced student from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, told CNN from the camp that he thought it was necessary to thank American students who “supported us with their humanity.”

“These are messages of thanks on our tents, these tents which protect us neither from the heat nor from the cold. The least we can do is thank them. We cannot write these messages of thanks on the walls of our houses because we do not have a house. They were destroyed over our children, our elders and our women,” he said.

AFP/Getty Images

A man in Rafah, Gaza, writes a message of thanks to student protesters in the United States on April 27, 2024.

Eighteen-year-old Rana Al-Taher pointed to the camp school, telling CNN that what should have been a place of learning and education has become a place of shelter.

“It means we have lost our education. We have lost our only hope in Gaza and we want to find it again. We are here to ask for it. It’s our right to get it back…that’s why we’re here,” she said.

According to the UN, more than 200 schools in Gaza have been “directly affected” since the start of Israeli bombardments. The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said that “no education has been taking place in Gaza for almost six months.”

In a recent report, UN experts denounced the “systemic annihilation” of Gaza’s education system.

“The persistent and cruel attacks on educational infrastructure in Gaza are having a devastating long-term impact on people’s fundamental rights to learn and express themselves freely, depriving a new generation of Palestinians of their future,” the experts said. .

Bayan Al-Fiqhi, a first-year university student, told CNN that she had not been able to attend her classes at her university in Cairo since the start of the war in Gaza and was very grateful to American students for “organizing their solidarity demonstration”.

“We hope that they will add pressure on Israel and the United States to end the bloodshed taking place in the Gaza Strip and prevent the invasion of Rafah,” she added.

The fate of Rafah weighs on the 1.3 million Palestinians displaced there. There have been weeks of speculation about when Israel might begin its planned military operation in the city. The UN has repeatedly warned of an Israeli ground invasion, saying an offensive “could lead to a massacre” in the southern region.

Tareq Alhélou/CNN

Palestinians during a demonstration in Rafah, Gaza, April 28, 2024.

Nowar Diab, 21, told CNN she lamented the impact of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza on her studies.

“I was supposed to graduate this year. I studied English and French literature at Al-Azhar University, but Al-Azhar University was bombed… this war was like a border between me, my dreams and the beginning of my career” , she said.

“Today I am here to tell the whole world that we, Gazan students, suffer and suffer every day,” she added.

Diab said that despite the brutality of the Israeli war, the resilience and determination of Gazan students to persevere was evident to the world.

Elsewhere in Gaza, dozens of Palestinian Christians celebrated Orthodox Palm Sunday by attending mass at St. Porphyry Church, the oldest in Gaza City, and praying for peace.

Videos show men, women, children and elderly people singing prayers inside the church, asking for peace to prevail in Gaza. We see children dressed up, carrying flowers and candles and playing in the cemetery decorated with palm trees.

Gaza City resident Khader Nasrawi, who attended the church celebrations, told CNN he hoped for a “better tomorrow.”

“We celebrate this holiday this year while we have heavy hearts and wounds caused by the loss of our loved ones and our homes during this brutal war… We ask the world to give us peace because we are people peace-loving. . Jesus Christ called for peace and love, like all other religions,” he added.

Another resident, Ihab Ayad, told CNN that he was injured by an Israeli airstrike that hit the church campus in October last year.

Ayab said that despite what he has experienced, he remains “united and steadfast” with his Palestinian community.

“This holiday is different for us, because of the tragedy of the war that the Palestinian people suffered, whether Christian or Muslim. The occupation does not distinguish between Christians and Muslims, it is a criminal attack,” he said.

Not far from the church, residents and eyewitnesses told CNN that an Israeli airstrike hit a four-story residential building in the Yarmouk neighborhood of Gaza City on Sunday. They said the Israeli army warned them before the attack and that there were no casualties.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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