UO students react to Middle East tensions and protests

Local students at U of O react to tensions and protests in the Middle East, May 15, 2018. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Tensions continue to rise in the Middle East this week, and local Oregon students are doing their part to highlight the toll that it's taking on Palestinian refugees.

A group of students have differences of opinion on the politics of the region, but remarkably, they have one thing in common.

While tensions between Jews and Palestinians in Israel show little signs of decreasing, local students, many of who have relatives in the Conflict Zone, can agree on one thing: the violence must stop.

The Student United for Palestinian Rights group gathered on the UO Campus to stand in solidarity with those who had lost their lives.

"I woke up by a mess in the news what happened in Gaza yesterday," said Abdul Abusaq, part of the student group. "It's pretty sad, about 52 people were killed and they were just protesting peacefully at the time."

On Monday, the U.S. officially relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the move was met with clashes and protests along the Israel-Gaza border.

"I think we are all, as human beings, obligated to share and sympathize with the Palestinian people and even raise the awareness, spread the word about their lot," said Abusaq. "Because here, this is why they need it. When I call anyone from there, they say 'Please let them know, we're here.'"

Hillel Oregon, a campus Jewish Community shared sympathy with their university classmates for those affected by the ongoing conflict.

"Our hearts and thoughts go out to those whose lives we certainly would never have wanted to see things happen and unfold the way they have," said Andy Gitelson, with the Oregon Hillel Foundation. "It's a growing tragedy, and I think that it's continuing to weigh on not just the Jewish community,k but as a community of people."

At least two Palestinian protesters died from Israeli gunfire on Tuesday during protests near the border. The protests marked the 70th anniversary of the expulsion of 700,000 people during the creation of Israel.

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