Counter-protesters and FIU police show up to student protest for Rafah

The display SJP created at the front of their protesters with each toy representing one thousand children that have died. | Danette Heredia, PantherNOW

Danette Heredia | Contributing Writer

Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU organized a die-in protest for recent events in Rafah and were met with counter-protesters and FIU police interference.

On Feb. 15, SJP at FIU organized a die-in protest called “All Eyes on Rafah” after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his troops would be advancing into Rafah, a city where about 1.4 million Palestinians seek shelter, and mourn the lives of Palestinian children who have died up to this point.

“All eyes on Rafah is just to represent what can be lost and what’s about to happen, and how we have to pay attention to this. We cannot ignore it,” says Giovanna Santos, event coordinator of SJP. 

Before starting, protesters were met with barricades placed by FIU police blocking the stairs they planned to perform the die-in, a type of protest where participants imitate being dead, on and checking Panther IDs for people entering Primera Casa. 

FIUPD Chief Officer Alexander D. Casas and SJP presidents had a discussion and agreed police would allow them to use half the anticipated space and SJP organizers would work cooperatively with police by reserving spaces for future protests.

“Moving forward, the understanding is that they’ll ask for it in much more advanced time. It’ll be a much better plan and much more collaborative,” Casas said.

Chief Officer Casas with SJP protest leaders about compromising and being able to work collaboratively in the future. | Danette Heredia, PantherNOW

A group of pro-Israeli protesters showed up with signs and Israeli flags with the intention of reminding people of the pain both sides of the war are going through and to represent the hostages that are being held in Rafah. 

“We know their pain and their suffering for the people who have passed away in this war, but we also need to remind people that it is not a one-sided conflict. On the other side, there are civilians who have been attacked and killed,” said Yishamel Columna, vice president of Students Supporting Israel at FIU. 

They were holding a multitude of signs demanding the freedom of the Israeli hostages at Rafah.

“If they aren’t coming home today, when are they coming home?” asks Harlam Rafifkind.

One of the posters pro-Israelis used read “More Hummus, Less Hamas”. | Danette Heredia, PantherNOW

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