Tensions Rising: Student Demonstrations Against Israel’s War in Gaza

Recent demonstrations on U.S. college campuses are drawing attention and spreading worldwide. According to the Guardian, the protests began at Columbia University in New York, and, as of May 8, 2024, have occurred at 140 U.S. colleges across 45 states. The students are vocalizing disapproval over universities’ involvement with companies connected to Israel’s war in Gaza, expressing concern for Palestinians trapped without humanitarian assistance, and calling for a cease-fire.

While most demonstrations have been peaceful, tensions are rising as campus safety concerns led some institutions to call on law enforcement. NPR reports that conflict between protestors and counter protestors at UCLA arose on April 30 and May 1 and the police response was considered by some to be excessive and violent. Thousands have been arrested and civil rights called into the limelight, with the Marshall Project noting that politicians have become involved, calling for various polarized actions against universities and students.

Demonstrations regarding the Israel-Palestine Conflict are hardly new or contained to college campuses. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) provides a revealing infographic portraying the demonstrations that occurred October 7-27, 2023, along with a brief on the student protests in April.

The Homeland Security Digital Library contains several resources that help to shed light on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza and provide further understanding to the demonstrations and counter responses. The Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) has released The War on Gaza and Middle East Political Science, a collection of scholarly papers focused on “academic freedoms and the conditions of public discourse.”

The Congressional Research Service has released several related studies that can also be found in HSDL:

HSDL’s Focus topic, Policing Protests, provides several resources related to law enforcement response to protests, including but not limited to: 

For further information, visit HSDL’s Timeline Event: Domestic Tension Over Israeli-Hamas Conflict.

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