Israel's Ambassador to the UN claims Hamas is 'hiding' in US universities amid campus protests

Israel's Ambassador to the UN claims Hamas is 'hiding' in US universities amid campus protests
Israel's Ambassador to the UN claims the pro-Palestine and pro-peace protesters in US campuses are ideologically the same as Hamas.
2 min read
04 May, 2024
Gilad Erdan's comments could be seen as an attempt to incite violence against the peaceful protesters [Getty]

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan claimed in a speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday that Hamas is hiding in America’s “elite universities”, in reference to the unprecedented pro-Palestinian protest encampments that have spread across US campuses. 

“The chants of pro-Palestinian rioters on campuses are calls for Israel’s destruction,” Erdan said in his speech in New York.

“We always knew that Hamas hides in schools … We just didn’t realize that it’s not only schools in Gaza. It’s also Harvard, Columbia and many elite universities,” he added.

During his speech, Erdan also characterised the peaceful US campus protests as “the murderous cries of the pro-Palestinian mobs”, while accusing them of “Nazi-like behaviour”.

Israel has reacted with hostility to any and all criticism and opposition to its devastating war on Gaza. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the International Criminal Court of committing "an antisemitic hate crime" for considering issuing an arrest warrant against him.

During his speech, Erdan rounded on the UN itself, lambasting the General Assembly’s support for Palestinian statehood, saying the international body was "telling the child-murdering Hamas rapists that terror pays off.”

Erdan’s comments on the protests come as US police forces continue to violently disperse and clear pro-Palestinian sit-ins and occupations of campuses across the US, including in Columbia University, the University of California, Los Angeles and Portland State University.

Hundreds of activists have been arrested, with many criticising the police for their heavy-handed tactics against the overwhelmingly non-violent protesters.

Erdan's attempt to liken US protesters to Hamas is particularly alarming in light of recent attacks on the encampments by pro-Israel counter-protesters using fireworks, mace, and other weapons. One video even showed activists releasing dozens of mice into students' tents.

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Observers at the camps have almost universally agreed the college protests have been peaceful, while student leaders insist pro-Israel opponents are defaming their popular movement with false accusations of violence and antisemitism.

The protests are mainly calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza, as well as demanding that their universities disinvest from Israel and Israeli-linked companies. 

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden spoke out strongly against the campus protests, saying “order must be restored” and characterised the encampments  as “lawless”.