Attendees at the Students for Justice in Palestine vigil listen to a student speak out against the violence towards Palestinians in Gaza at CSUN in Northridge, Calif. on Oct. 19.
Attendees at the Students for Justice in Palestine vigil listen to a student speak out against the violence towards Palestinians in Gaza at CSUN in Northridge, Calif. on Oct. 19.
Griffin O’Rourke

Students hold memorial event for Palestinians at CSUN

The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) held a candlelight vigil in Matador Square on Oct. 19 to remember the dead and wounded Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

SJP is a pro-Palestinian student group with chapters across 200 campuses in the United States and Canada. According to their website, the group has its origins in the formation of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), which was formed in the 1950s.

The peaceful demonstration was held at Matador Square, and hosted a crowd of about 100 people. Paper pamphlets, made by the advocacy group Visualizing Palestine, were scattered across the square by SJP. The pamphlets detailed inequalities Palestinians face in Gaza and the West Bank.

A podium draped in the Palestinian flag and a banner detailed with the group’s icon faced the square. Attendees used chalk to write pro-Palestinian slogans and icons on the concrete. A minute of silence was held to remember the Palestinians killed by Israel. People from the crowd were invited by SJP to the podium where they spoke out against Israel’s actions, calling for peace and liberation of Palestine. Some condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza and others called for peace. Robert Avila, a board member at SJP and an ecology major at CSUN, is not Palestinian but supports the movement.

“If we don’t come together, ask our institutions to change their statements, to change their budgeting, to move funding away from acts of violence, nothing really comes together,” said Avila. “We can learn and we can post and we can share. But at the end of the day, if we don’t act, then there’s no point.”

The Israeli attacks in Gaza were precipitated by a surprise attack when Hamas militants broke through the Gaza-Israeli border on Oct. 7. Fighting broke out throughout Southern Israel, with Hamas killing 1,400 people and kidnapped another 220. Peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts to Gaza have been strained. French President Emmanual Macron declared Wednesday that France will be sending a navy ship to Gaza to support the struggling hospitals. The buckling health-care system in Gaza has been stretched thin. As of Wednesday, a Hamas-run Health Ministry said that at least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed and 17,439 have been wounded. Doctors and nurses are burning through fuel, water and medicine as injured Palestinians pour into hospitals. An Israeli ground invasion of Gaza is still anticipated. On Tuesday, Google disabled traffic data in Gaza at the request of the Israeli military.

“My best friend, he has family over there.” said Santa Monica College student Hudson Kure. “One of them is an active volunteer in supporting people with the wounds and everything in the church and that church got bombed today. So we have no idea if they’re even alive anymore.”

Some were there just in solidarity, calling for peace in Gaza. Spinzer Mustikhan, a mother of three, held a paper sign on two plastic rulers, made by her 15-year-old daughter, which read “Free Palestine”. The slogan “Free Palestine” is commonly used in relation to the Free Palestine Movement, an armed group that fights against the occupation of Palestine. Mustikhan has no relatives in the area, but was deeply saddened by the conflict.

“I don’t think you have to be Muslim or from that country or from that part of the world to care, you know, to be moved.” said Mustikhan.

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