On May 11, 2021, police, Pro-Palestian student protesters, and counter student protesters reportedly clashed in front of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
In early May, tensions in Israel rose in anticipation of an Israeli court ruling on May 10 about whether authorities could evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah for Jewish settlers and coinciding holidays. May 10 also marks Jerusalem Day, intended to commemorate the unification of East and West Jerusalem under Israeli rule in 1967. The period leading up to the court ruling and Jerusalem Day, which occurred during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was marked by provocation by Israeli nationalists in Arab neighborhoods within Jerusalem, and clashes between police and Arab Israelis as well as between pro-Palestinian Israelis and nationalist Israelis.
On May 11, pro-Palestinian students held a protest in front of BGU over the pending evictions in Sheikh Jarrah while another group of BGU students held a counter protest across the street. Right wing nationalists reportedly joined the counter-protest and threw rocks and bottles at the pro-Palestinian group, sparking a clash between the groups. Police reportedly fired tear gas at the groups in an attempt to disperse them. One student was reportedly stabbed during the protest and rushed to a hospital. Police reportedly forced pro-Palestinian students into a BGU student residence and held them there for five hours. Police arrested 11 individuals for violence.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. State authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such acts, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. Students and other members of society must also refrain from physical violence in response to expression with which they disagree. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).