Protests over Gaza violence disrupt Israeli campuses

(JTA) — Arab and Jewish students at three Israeli universities faced off in campus demonstrations related to the latest outbreak of violence on the Gaza-Israel border.

At Haifa University, dozens of Arab students held a vigil in memory of Ahmed Jabari, the Hamas military commander who was killed in the first few minutes of Operation Pillar of Defense, which Israel launched in Gaza on Wednesday.

Haifa Mayor Yonah Yahav asked Amos Shapira, the president of the University of Haifa, to ban such “provocations.”

“I expect the university to condemn this disgusting ceremony for a murderer," Yahav wrote in a letter, "held at a time when the country weeps for three people killed by rocket fire, and make sure radical forces cannot spread their malicious propaganda within the institution.”

Missile exchanges have killed more than 60 Palestinians and three Israelis since Israel launched its operation on Wednesday in retaliation for an intensification of rocket attacks from Gaza in recent days.

The University of Haifa’s management said the students did not ask for a permit to hold the event. A group of Israeli students present started singing the national anthem, "Hatikvah," next to the Arab students, according to NRG, the news site of the daily Maariv.

Similar demonstrations and spontaneous counter-demonstrations occurred at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, the news site reported. 

Separately in Tel Aviv, a few dozen people convened on King George Street to protest Israel’s strikes on Gaza, and a similarly sized crowd protested the protesters, NRG reported.

Police had to break up clashes between the groups, NRG said.

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