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After US, pro-Palestine student protests proliferate in Canada, France, Mexico, Australia

A general view of the building of the Sciences Po University where youths staged a sit-in in support of Palestinians, during Israel's ongoing war on Gaza, in Paris, France, on April 26, 2024. (Photo by Reuters)

Pro-Palestine student protests have intensified in several countries across the world, including Canada, France, Mexico, and Australia, amid a crackdown on US students and a mounting death toll from Israel’s war on Gaza.

On Friday, dozens of students continued a sit-in in the main buildings of Sciences Po university in the French capital, Paris, after having spent the night there.

"By the way, the negotiations with leadership are making no progress," Jack, one of the protesters, told Reuters in a text message, in reference to a debate between the institute's leadership and students over the war and academic ties with Israel.

Sciences Po's director on Thursday rejected demands by protesters to review the schools' ties with Israeli universities.

According to a student speaking on behalf of the protesters, at least one person has gone on a hunger strike.

After the debate failed to ease tensions, Sciences Po university was closed for the day on Friday and its staff were asked to work from home, according to an internal memo cited by local newspaper Le Parisien and radio France Inter.

The elite political sciences university this week became the center of a wave of pro-Palestine protests at several French schools.

In Canada, more students have erected pro-Palestinian camps across some of the country’s largest

universities, including the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia the University of Ottawa, and McGill University.

They demand the universities divest from groups with ties to Israel.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said on Thursday the encampment at Montreal's McGill should be dismantled.

"We want the camp to be dismantled. We trust the police, let them do their job," a spokesperson for Legault said. The law enforcement said in a statement Thursday evening it was monitoring the situation.

On Thursday morning, students at the University of Toronto set up an encampment at the school's downtown campus where nearly 100 protesters gathered with dozens of tents.      

The organizers say the encampment will stay until the university discloses its investments, divests from any that "sustain Israeli apartheid, occupation and illegal settlement of Palestine" and cut ties with some Israeli academic institutions.

Also on Thursday, dozens of pro-Palestinian students camped out in front of the head office of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the largest in the country, chanting "Long live free Palestine".

They urged their government to break diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, and voiced their support for their counterparts in the US.

"We are here to support Palestine, the people who are in Palestine, and the student camps in the United States," Valentino Pino, a 19-year-old philosophy student, said.

Australia also saw protests in support of Palestine on Friday. At the University of Sydney, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters met dozens of supporters of Israel who are calling for the pro-Palestinian camp to be forcibly dismantled.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators have been camped for 10 days in front of the University of Sydney's sprawling Gothic sandstone edifice, a bastion of Australian academia. They also demand Sydney University to cut ties with Israeli institutions and reject funding from arms companies.

The camp’s organizers said they were inspired by the US protests.

New York's Columbia University inspired "us to set up our own camp", Deaglan Godwin, a 24-year-old arts and science student and one of the organizers, said.

He also noted that the protests at Columbia University, the scene of police crackdowns and mass arrests, were also a warning.

Columbia is "also now a warning, a warning that the government is willing to use quite lethal, brutal force in order to put down Palestinian protesters."

The Pro-Palestine demonstrations began at Columbia University in New York City on April 17, and have spread across other campuses in the US in a student movement unlike any other this century.

US police arrested about 2,200 people during pro-Palestinian protests at college campuses across the country in recent weeks, the Associated Press reported.

The students are calling for an end to Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza and demanding schools divest from companies that support the Israeli regime.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime's decades-long campaign of bloodletting and devastation against Palestinians.

Tel Aviv has also blocked water, food, and electricity to Gaza, plunging the coastal strip into a humanitarian crisis.

Since the start of the offensive, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 34,596 Palestinians and injured 77,816 others.

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