Students erect pro-Palestinian encampments across major Canadian universities

Students erect pro-Palestinian encampments across major Canadian universities

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said on Thursday the encampment at Montreal’s McGill University should be dismantled as more students erected pro-Palestinian camps across some of Canada’s largest universities, demanding they divest from groups with ties to Israel.

The Canadian protests come as police have been arresting hundreds on U.S. campuses and the death toll in Gaza has been mounting.

While McGill had requested police intervention, law enforcement had not stepped in Thursday to clear the encampment and said in a statement Thursday evening it was monitoring the situation.

Students also set up encampments at Canadian schools including the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa.
“We want the camp to be dismantled. We trust the police, let them do their job,” a spokesperson for Legault said.
There was also a pro-Israel counter-protest in Montreal Thursday. The two sides were kept separate.

On Thursday morning, students at the University of Toronto set up an encampment in a fenced-off grassy space at the school’s downtown campus where some 100 protesters gathered with dozens of tents.

According to a statement from organizers the encampment will stay until the university discloses its investments, divests from any that “sustain Israeli apartheid, occupation and illegal settlement of Palestine” and ends partnerships with some Israeli academic institutions.
Israel says it does not participate in apartheid and that its assault on Gaza does not constitute genocide.
A university spokesperson told Reuters it was “in dialogue with the protesters” and that, as of midday, the encampment was “not disruptive to normal university activities.”
University of Toronto graduate student and encampment spokesperson Sara Rasikh told Reuters they will remain until their demands are met.
“If public disruption is the only way to get our voice heard, then we are willing to do that,” she said.
Some Jewish groups have accused protesters of being antisemitic. Organizers deny that charge, noting that some protesters are Jewish.
Asked to comment on the encampments, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office pointed to a statement he made on Tuesday, saying “Universities are places of learning, they’re places for freedom of expression … but that only works if people feel safe on campus. Right now … Jewish students do not feel safe. That’s not right.”
The protests follow the deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip, which killed 1,200 people and saw dozens taken hostage, and an ensuing Israeli offensive that has killed about 34,000 and created a humanitarian crisis.

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