‘Cowardly’ attack on uni protesters

Student activists, including Bree Symonds, were reportedly targeted late on Monday night when fireworks were set off inside the encampment. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin

Student activists at the Adelaide University Gaza solidarity encampment were reportedly targeted late on Monday night when fireworks were fired on the campus site.

At 9.40pm and 10. 20pm on Monday two makeshift firecrackers were reportedly thrown from a roof above into the campsite established on Adelaide University’s Maths Lawns to protest the school’s funding by arms manufacturers.

Adelaide University arts students and Students for Palestine Adelaide member Bree Symonds said the attack was meant to startle and intimidate the activists.

“It was in the middle of our camps, it actually melted and damaged a couple of nearby tents. We were lucky that no one was inside,” Ms Symonds said.

Bree Symonds (right) with student activists at the Adelaide University Gaza solidarity encampment. The young protester said the attack left students ‘on high alert’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin

“We’re not sure where the first one was thrown from, but it definitely went off inside the camp.

“A lot of people are obviously on high alert and looking for the people responsible.”

It’s estimated that there were 30 activists occupying the university lawns on Monday night.

“I do think that people have remained pretty steadfast, we don’t want to pack up because there are a few individuals who would use violent tactics to intimidate us when we have so much community support,” Ms Symonds said.

“What we experienced last night is a tiny fraction of what people in Gaza and the Rafah crossing are feeling right now, and we feel that as long as Palestinians aren’t safe, as long as they’re in danger every second of the day, we’re going to continue our protest.”

There were no injuries reported.

“The coward that is doing this attacked a tent where people are sleeping,” student organiser Melak Khaleel said.

Adelaide University Gaza solidarity encampment organisers Melak Khaleel and Habibah Jaghoori say the attack was the work of ‘coward’.
Adelaide University Gaza solidarity encampment organisers Melak Khaleel and Habibah Jaghoori say the attack was the work of ‘coward’.

“This is a scare tactic, it’s happened across the world.

“We have the right to be here, we have permission to be here.”

The student group called for a snap protest on Tuesday afternoon “to defend the encampment”. It comes as Israel increased its strikes on Rafah in the south of Gaza despite the proposal of ceasefire terms by Hamas leadership.

“On the sixth night of the Gaza solidarity encampment at Adelaide University we faced a cowardly attack on our protest camp,” a statement from Students for Palestine Adelaide reads.

“This is a cowardly tactic of intimidation, but we will not be intimidated. We are keeping our protest camp, and want more people to join us to show that we won’t back down in our fight for an end to the genocide in Palestine.”

Ms Symonds said protesters were on ‘high alert’ after the incident. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin

Student protests across Australia’s Group of Eight universities have called for a divestment by Australia’s 32 public universities from arms manufacturers supplying military technology to the Israeli military.

“The Gaza solidarity encampment has been attacked twice tonight by coward Zionists and pathetic attempts to intimidate us,” a Students for Palestine Adelaide caption reads. “Disclose and Divest.

“Long live the student intifada.”

Australia’s university encampment protests began on April 23 when student associations occupied The University of Sydney lawns, followed by Melbourne University on April 25.

Student occupation protests have spread globally since beginning in the US to protest local military industry investment. Headlines travelled internationally when police crackdowns led to violence and arrests at New York’s Columbia University.

The protests have provoked harsh responses nationally, with the Australian Jewish Association equating the protests to “Hitler Youth rallies” in a Twitter post.

Adelaide University has garnered elevated criticism from students due to the volume of local military manufacturing embedded in the AUKUS deals.

Ms Symonds said Adelaide University students were concerned about the university’s collaboration, alongside the University of NSW, in the Defence Trailblazer: Concept to Sovereign Capability project.

Boeing Australia has committed $50m to the project, which aims to push research by university graduates into military production applications.

“I think a lot of students like myself, who are paying for these degrees, think it’s quite upsetting to see the university has been using its resources to help fund a genocidal war,” Ms Symonds said.

“I would like to see our tuition used for learning and actually making the world a better place.”