On May 15, 2022, student members of Im Tirtzu, a far-right pro-Israel group, clashed with students at Tel Aviv University who were holding a demonstration to mark the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, a day many Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or “catastrophe.” .
A group of Palestinian and Israeli students held a sit-in to mark the anniversary of the Nakba while Im Tirtzu members held a counter-demonstration. It is unclear what sparked the clashes between the two groups. According to Al Jazeera, Musta’ribeen units – undercover Israeli agents disguised as Palestinians – attacked Palestinian students. At least 16 students were injured. Police arrested three Palestinian students, Ahmad Jabbarin, Nimr Abu Ahmad, and Rami Khatib, in response. Ahmad and Khatib were released that same day, but Israeli authorities held Jabbarin in custody for three days based on accusations that he assaulted police. An Israeli court ordered Jabbarin’s unconditional release on May 18.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent, on-campus clashes between student groups. Student groups have a responsibility to refrain from physical violence and must respect other students’ right to peacefully gather. Likewise, state and university authorities should take steps to prevent on-campus violence and ensure that students are able to gather safely. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, on-campus violence undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.