Protesters Backing Palestine Hold Demonstration on University Avenue as Israeli Defense Force Enters Rafah

Protesters Backing Palestine Hold Demonstration on University Avenue as Israeli Defense Force Enters Rafah

Yesterday, the University of Florida (UF) Divestment Coalition and other Palestine-supporting protesters gathered at the intersection of University and 13th to protest the Israeli military’s entrance into Rafah and the displacement of Palestinian people in the region.

As the week began, Israel announced that an estimated 100,000 civilians in Rafah were being ordered to evacuate into what they referred to as a “humanitarian area,” located in Al-Mawasi. Those already in Al-Mawasi have reported that the humanitarian conditions are unsustainable. 

Photo of Al-Mawasi Cred. AP Photo/Fatima Shbair (Times of Israel)

According to the United Nations,“multiple news outlets have reported that Hamas's supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh, had confirmed the militant group’s acceptance of what it stated were Israel's ceasefire terms in a phone call with Qatar's Prime Minister and a senior Egyptian minister. The two countries have been leading negotiations between the warring parties.”

According to Reuters, the three-phase ceasefire proposal, which was accepted by Hamas and rejected by Israel, reads as follows:

“Phase One

– 42-day ceasefire period

– Hamas releases 33 Israeli hostages in return for Israel releasing Palestinians from Israeli jails.

– Israel partially withdraws troops from Gaza and allows free movement of Palestinians from south to north Gaza.

Phase Two

- Another 42-day period that features an agreement to restore a "sustainable calm" to Gaza, language that an official briefed on the talks said Hamas and Israel had agreed in order to take discussion of a "permanent ceasefire" off the table.

- The complete withdrawal of most Israeli troops from Gaza.

- Hamas releases Israeli reservists and some soldiers in return for Israel releasing Palestinians from jail.

 Phase Three 

- The completion of exchanging bodies and starting the implementation of reconstruction according to the plan overseen by Qatar, Egypt, and the United Nations.

- Ending the complete blockade on the Gaza Strip.”

One Israeli official reportedly called Hama’s acceptance of a ceasefire “a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel would “send a delegation of mediators to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement under conditions acceptable to Israel.” He added that Israel's goals include “[Destroying] Hamas military and governing capabilities and [ensuring] that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future."

Co-Chair of Young Democratic Socialists for America (YDSA) Aron Ali-McClory said UF needs to disclose their divestments and sanction all their ties with the Israeli government and other Israeli-backed initiatives. Ali-McClory went on to make statements regarding local government officials, saying our Gainesville City Commissioners and Alachua County Commissioners need to be held to a higher degree of accountability.

"I think Harvey likes to play both sides," Ali-McClory said about Gainesville's Mayor Harvey Ward taking a picture next to two IDF soldiers while also having written a letter to Biden asking for a ceasefire and the release of all hostages. In the letter, Ward thanked Biden for his contributions towards “peace and prosperity.”

Mayor Ward's letter to Biden
(Left) Shlomi Kahana (Middle) Mayor Harvey Ward (Right) Rom El-Hai
(Top) Rom El Hai in IDF uniform. (Bottom) Shlomi Kahana's UF Hillel bio

When asked if Mayor Ward has an opportunity to change his stance, Ali-McClory said, "At this point, you’re 34,000 Palestinians too late."

Ali-McClory held the same energy for Alachua County Commissioners, saying they could be doing more as well. Alachua County Commissioners have repeatedly turned down proposed ceasefire resolutions from local activist groups. 

The protest gathered a crowd of about 100 people, with a police presence from the University of Florida Police Department (UFPD) and Gainesville Police Department (GPD). This comes a week after they, along with state troopers, arrested nine pro-Palestinian protesters at the ongoing protest at the UF Plaza of the Americas after three decided to sit in chairs. Chairs were listed among the list of prohibited items, however, protesters sat in chairs anyway as an act of defiance. 

Protesters acknowledged the number of reported Palestinian deaths and the recent arrests with their chants, stating, “40,000 people dead; you arrest chairs instead.”


One protester spotted a UFPD officer spending time on his phone while the protest was ongoing. He elected to take a photo of the officer and add a caption to the image. 

Following the demonstration, protesters returned to the Plaza of the Americas and read Palestinian-resistance poetry. The field in which the protest is taking place has been dubbed "The Liberation Zone" by protesters.

UFPD watches protesters read poetry at the Liberation Zone

One of the protesters who was leading the Palestinian-resistance poetry reading was grateful for the turnout but emphasized the need for the priority to be on civilians in Gaza. He remarked, “Fundraisers for supplying the Liberation Zone at the Plaza had received several times more money than fundraisers the same groups of organizations had held for aid in Gaza." 

This protest comes two weeks after three Florida healthcare workers spoke in Gainesville on their experiences volunteering in Gaza through the Palestine American Medical Association (PAMA).

Donations to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and PAMA can be made here and here respectively.

A protester holding a sign displaying a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Florida Healthcare Workers Testify to Palestinian Genocide in Gaza with Video and Photographic Evidence
Article Two of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as “any of the following
Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL