Skip to main content

UCLA: Pro-Palestine student encampment attacked by pro-Israel counter-protesters

More than 100 Israel supporters attacked pro-Palestine students at UCLA, using sticks, poles and bear spray to remove protest site
A pro-Israel supporter, with a Star of David tattoo on his hand, can be seen as part of a crowd attempting to destroy the makeshift pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA on 1 May, 2024 (Reuters)

Violence erupted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) late on Tuesday when a group of pro-Israel supporters attacked pro-Palestinian students with sticks and poles, and attempted to destroy their makeshift student encampment.

The violence erupted at around 22:50 local time when the pro-Israel supporters arrived at the encampment and launched fireworks at the pro-Palestine protesters and deployed what appeared to be bear spray, local TV station KTLA reported.

Local media showed the pro-Palestine students covering themselves with umbrellas from the spray. According to KTLA, at least one person was taken away by ambulance for treatment. 

Several videos posted on social media appeared to show the pro-Israel supporters wielding sticks and poles, and throwing punches at some of the students at the makeshift encampment after breaking through a barrier.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The Daily Bruin reported that around 100 pro-Israel supporters had stormed the Palestine solidarity encampment at Dickson Plaza, while police reportedly stood by and "watched".

Administrators at UCLA had called in police to try to and stem the violence, with Mary Osako, a vice-chancellor at the university, saying: "horrific acts of violence occurred at the encampment tonight.

"The fire department and medical personnel are on the scene. We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end," she said in a statement.

Writing on X, the mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, also condemned the violence, calling it "absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable".

Pro-Palestine student receives medical attention after Israel supporters attack student encampment at UCLA on 01 May, 2024 (Reuters)
A pro-Palestine student receives medical attention after Israel supporters attacked the student encampment at UCLA on 1 May, 2024 (Reuters)

For over two weeks, UCLA, along with other universities across the US, have been the scene of protests against Israel's war on Gaza, which has killed at least 34,500 Palestinians, most of them children and women.

Student activists are demanding their institutions commit to divestment from Israeli companies and that the US stops bankrolling Israel's bloody campaign.

Israel is currently facing genocide charges at the International Court of Justice for its conduct in Gaza, which includes mass bombardment of civilian areas, summary executions and the withdrawal of food and other aid into the territory.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, New York City police arrested dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators holed-up in an academic building at Columbia University and removed a protest encampment the Ivy League school had sought to dismantle for nearly two weeks.

Columbia university: Police in riot gear arrest dozens of students, clear pro-Palestine encampment
Read More »

Columbia University's president, Minouche Shafik, had requested police help to remove the protesters who had occupied the institution's Hamilton Hall, renaming it after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl killed by Israel in January.

"With the utmost regret, we request the NYPD’s help to clear all individuals from Hamilton Hall and all campus encampments," Shafik wrote in a letter to the New York Police Department.

According to the letter, Shafik requested that police officers remain on site until 17 May to prevent a resumption of protests.

The university's decision triggered widespread condemnation with New York City Congressman Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat, condemning the police's actions.

"These are students. In no world should our kids be met with guns when using their constitutional right to peacefully assemble," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Likewise, Lea Salim, a student at Columbia, described the heavily armed police raid as a stain on Columbia.  

"Tonight, my university called in a militarised police force - armed in riot gear, with guns drawn, deploying weapons banned under international law - to attack teenagers," she told Middle East Eye.

"All because Columbia refuses to divest from the Israeli military and its genocidal campaign on the people of Gaza."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.