Zionists attack Monash University Gaza encampment

2 May 2024
Omar Hassan
Gaza solidarity encampment at Monash University PHOTO: Madi Curkovic

Students at the Monash University encampment for Gaza were awakened at 2am this morning by a far-right invasion of their camp. Draped in Australian and Israeli flags, a group of middle-aged thugs—overwhelmingly men—swarmed the camp, destroying parts of its infrastructure and shaking the tents of young women while they slept inside. This violent attack comes after the student protesters endured multiple intimidation attempts by supporters of Israel as they were setting up their camp.

One of the perpetrators claimed to be a member of the Israeli Army. Others were dressed in coloured wigs, aggressively chasing students around asking them “what’s your gender?”.

Madi Curkovic, one of the Queer Officers at the Monash Student Association, was in her tent when the invasion began. “They came in the middle of the night while we were all sleeping and started blaring this obnoxious music extremely loudly”, she told Red Flag. “When I got out to see what was going on, I saw these middle-aged white guys circling around people’s tents, calling out loudly about how the Palestinians deserved it because they were all terrorists, and we were terrorist supporters.”

One of the songs played on rotation was an Israeli anthem of the far right titled “It’s on us”. This song is controversial even in Israel for being a militaristic, jingoistic, religiously-inspired call for indiscriminate violence against the Palestinians. “Good evening Gaza, another day, another dead nazi”, it begins, with visuals depicting the bombing of schools and hospitals as the rappers celebrate “sending the rats into their holes” and “burying the scumbags”.

Campus security turned up after a few minutes but did nothing to stop the attackers from destroying the camp kitchen and welcome marquee. Nor did they ask if the victims of this outrageous assault were ok. This contrasts with their usual behaviour on campus, where they are quick to investigate any protest action and regularly harass students setting up information stalls.

Faced with the determined inaction of the university, students eventually called the police to end the attack. Their response was shocking, even for those who understand their terrible history of racism and bigotry. “The first question they asked me”, explained Max, an engineering student, “was ‘what is their skin colour’. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing”.

Max was eventually able to get past the officer’s racist prejudices and explain the rough outline of events. But when the police arrived sometime later, they quickly decided that there was nothing they could do. Madeline explained the farcical situation to Red Flag: “They asked if we had seen who damaged the camp, or who had shaken the student in the tent. We obviously hadn’t, because we were asleep, so they said that there was no evidence to follow up on”.

When the police asked the far-right thugs to provide basic identification, they refused, which the police happily accepted. In fact, the police only took the students’ details, despite them being the victims.

Speaking to the students in the morning, the overwhelming sense is that last night’s attack has left them with a steely determination to continue.

“They were trying to scare and intimidate peaceful protesters”, said one young woman whose tent was attacked by the men. “But it’s not going to stop me being here, I’m even more proud to be here now, their attacks just make me want to support the people of Palestine even more.”

The message from the students is clear. “We will not be cowed”, insisted Madi. “We’re organising a snap protest today to demonstrate our renewed commitment to the cause, and we hope that dozens and dozens will join us to strengthen the camp tonight.”

Madi is particularly hopeful that the student and staff unions will lend their weight to the local branch of this growing student rebellion. “Unions have a long history of standing up for justice, at home and abroad. The battle lines are now drawn, we hope they join us in this vital movement.”

Support the Monash students by joining the protest camp today at 2pm on the Lemon-scented Lawns and if you can, camp tonight. Those unable to do so can donate here to help rebuild the camp, or deliver food or other supplies by calling 0423 479 652.

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