Australia Today

Inside the Gaza Solidarity Encampments at Australian Universities

Protest camps have been established at a number of Australian Universities following similar pro-Palestine demonstrations in The US.

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Melbourne’s Monash University was intruded on last night by a group of people brandishing Australian and Israeli flags.

Protest camps have been established at a number of Australian Universities in the last week following similar pro-Palestine demonstrations in the US


First was the University of Sydney last Tuesday, then similar camps were set up at Australian National University (ANU), the University of Queensland (UQ), Curtin University, the University of Melbourne and, finally on Wednesday, Monash University.

At about 1am last night, just 12 hours after they set up, a group of 10-12 people, mostly middle-aged men, entered the camp and started berating the young protestors

Students for Palestine organiser Connor Knight told VICE: “We all woke up to a massive crash when they’d thrown our fridge across the lawn and smashed up our gazebo and they pretty much started playing really loud music, they played the Australian national anthem.”

He said the group walked through the camp and shook all the tents telling the protestors to wake up and come outside.

Footage shows the group hanging around the camp, and using Islamophobic and transphobic language, including calling protestors, terrorists, rapists, pedophiles and members of Hamas.

One member of the group also claimed to be a current IDF soldier.


Students for Palestine posted on Instagram that university security arrived at the camp shortly after but the group remained so protestors decided to call police. Knight said police told them there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the intruders. 

The police gave the group a 24-hour move-on order but warned the protestors the same people or others could return.

The protestors are now calling for more people to join the camp and its rallies on campus in solidarity.

“The big thing we’re trying to press now is we want this to be three or four times bigger, if they do come back. We don’t want to be intimidated,” Knight said.

“Our policy is to avoid [confrontations], this is a peaceful demonstration. We don’t want to be inflaming anything, we’re here to protest the genocide not to get into fights with people.”

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) also held a “rally against hate” at the University of Melbourne today to counter encampments set up on the campus in support of Gaza.

In a statement, the AUJS said it had been in correspondence with the federal education minister and university vice-chancellors across the country calling for new measures requiring student identification on campus be implemented to ensure “external extremist actors” don’t “hijack our campuses”.


uThe counter rally was also attended by the Zionist Federation of Australia, whose CEO Alon Cassuto cited concerns about antisemitism on campuses and said “every student deserves to learn in a space free from fear and intimidation”.

The Australia Jewish Association also posted on social media on Thursday morning its members and other Jewish Australians were organising a counter-rally at the University of Sydney. The group wrote, “We aren't going to let a bunch of antisemites over-run our campuses”.

This also comes after The University of Sydney released a statement this week that it was cooperating with police and conducting its own investigations in relation to the encampments on campus. 

Allegations include of misconduct by protestors include graffiti, protestors entering buildings and allegedly harassing staff, and protestors blocking roads and allegedly endangering “health and wellbeing” of others.

Sydney University’s vice chancellor Mark Scott wrote to staff: “I want to assure you the university considers these alleged behaviours completely unacceptable and that we take violations of our Student Charter and our Code of Conduct very seriously. We are investigating these violations of our policies in the usual way, including cooperating with police investigations where alleged unacceptable conduct might have broken the law.

He said that some buildings may be placed into “secure mode” meaning a valid student or staff card will be required to enter from now on.