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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Sasse condemns Hamas, ensures campus safety following Israel vigil stampede

The president sent a letter to Jewish alumni Tuesday

<p>Hundreds of UF students and community members gather in Turlington Plaza for a candlelight vigil to show support for Israel after after Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas launched a large-scale invasion on Monday, Oct. 10, 2023. </p>

Hundreds of UF students and community members gather in Turlington Plaza for a candlelight vigil to show support for Israel after after Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas launched a large-scale invasion on Monday, Oct. 10, 2023.

UF President Ben Sasse wrote an email to Jewish alumni following a vigil held Monday in support of Israel that ended in a stampede.

The letter condemned Hamas and assured the UF community of its safety in the face of possible “anti-Israel protests.” 

Hamas, a Palestinian paramilitary organization, launched a deadly missile attack on Israel Saturday. The death toll from the attack has reached 1,200 as of Wednesday, according to Wall Street Journal.

“I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism,” he wrote.

Many people in “elite academia” have inadvertently excused Hamas’s attacks, according to Sasse.

“[They] have been so weakened by their moral confusion that, when they see videos of raped women, hear of a beheaded baby, or learn of a grandmother murdered in her home, the first reaction of some is to ‘provide context’ and try to blame the raped women, beheaded baby, or the murdered grandmother,” he wrote.

He is thankful that he has not seen any examples of UF faculty or students expressing such beliefs, he added. 

Additionally, Sasse has warned the UPD against possible “anti-Israel protests” in the coming days.

“We will protect our Jewish students from violence,” he wrote. “If anti-Israel protests come, we will absolutely be ready to act if anyone dares to escalate beyond peaceful protest. Speech is protected — violence and vandalism are not.”

Several campus organizations – including the Arab Students’ Association, Islam on Campus and Students for Justice in Palestine – held a “Day of Resistance” teach-in Thursday to educate students about current events within Palestine. 

Members of UF Students for Justice in Palestine said they haven’t received any communication from administration regarding the Israel-Hamas war.  

On Sunday, Israel declared war on Hamas and has since initiated a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, where more than 2.3 million Palestinians live. Over 300,000 Israeli soldiers have amassed near Gaza in preparation for a possible ground assault.

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Contact Garrett at gshanley@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.

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Garrett Shanley

Garrett Shanley is a third-year journalism and history major and The Alligator's Fall 2023 university administration reporter. In his free time, Garrett can be found watching Wong Kar-Wai movies and brooding.


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