13 Arrested at Stanford as Anti-Israel Protesters Occupy President’s Office

LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles Times/TNS/Hamodia) — Law enforcement officers descended on Stanford University on Wednesday morning and arrested 13 anti-Israel activists who occupied President Richard Saller’s office on the last day of spring classes, vowing they would not leave until administrators met their demands to divest from Israel.

At around 6 a.m., a small group of students and alumni entered Saller’s office on the main quad. After barricading themselves inside, they named the building “Dr. Adnan’s office” in honor of Dr. Adnan al-Bursh, a Palestinian surgeon arrested during the IDF’s raid on al-Shifa hospital last year. Al-Bursh had posted messages to social media in support of the Oct. 7 massacre, wrote of terroristic “martyrdom” and has been photographed together with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Al-Bursh died in April in an Israeli detention facility.

The occupation lasted about an hour and a half. At around 7:30 a.m. — as protesters outside were chanting, law enforcement officers broke open a door with a crowbar and entered the building. The university said the building has been cleared.

By 8 a.m., police from the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office and Stanford University Dept. of Public Safety had cleared the building of protesters. Stanford University announced that 13 students were arrested.

According to a Stanford Daily reporter on the scene, an injured Stanford University Dept. of Public Safety deputy was taken out of the building on a stretcher.

“THE STUDENT INT1FADA IS GROWING,” anti-Israel group Liberate Stanford wrote in a statement on social media as the building was occupied, intentionally spelling “intifada” with a numerical 1, apparently to avoid anti-terrorism filters used by social media companies. Intifada in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian issue refers to waves of terrorism targeting Jewish civilians over several decades. “We refuse to leave until Stanford Administration and the Stanford Board of Trustees meet our demands and take action to address their role in enabling and profiting from the ongoing genocide (sic) in Gaza.”

About 50 students — most wearing black with their faces wrapped in kaffiyehs, scarves associated with Palestinian terrorism — linked arms and surrounded the building in solidarity with the occupying students.

In a statement, the university said the activists “unlawfully entered” the building that houses the offices of the president and provost.

“There has been extensive damage to the interior and exterior of the building. No other campus operations have been affected at this time,” the statement said.

The university did not respond to a request for information about an injured law enforcement officer.

The protesters — who call themselves an autonomous group of students unaffiliated with any official student group — are calling on Stanford to add the divestment bill submitted by Stanford Against Apartheid in Palestine to the next Board of Trustees meeting, with a recommendation by Saller to support the bill, disclose finances from fiscal year 2022, and drop all disciplinary and criminal charges against pro-Palestinian students.

“If these demands are met, we will leave your office, President Saller,” an activist wearing sunglasses, a mask and a kaffiyeh said as she sat at a wooden desk inside the building in a video posted to social media by Liberate Stanford.

Divisions swiftly emerged among the protesters after the university’s historic main quad was spray painted and vandalized with slogans such as “Death to Israel,” “Kill cops” and obscene remarks about murdering police.

In a statement, Liberate Stanford condemned activists who they claimed “took it upon themselves to spray paint or vandalize the outside of these buildings.” The organization did not, however, denounce the content of the messages.

The occupation comes after months of protests and negotiations between Stanford officials and anti-Israel activists. Last year, protesters set up a sprawling encampment, Sit-in to Stop Genocide, in White Plaza, which became the longest sit-in in Stanford history, until administrators enforced a camping ban in February due to safety concerns.

In April, activists set up another encampment in White Plaza. On May 20, a small group of demonstrators attempted to occupy a mechanical engineering building, blocking entryways with barricades and furniture. Saller told the faculty senate that students involved in that occupation faced “immediate suspension and the inability to participate in commencement” and may be subject to criminal charges.

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