The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an activist group advocating for the empowerment of the Palestinian people, held a “Rally for Palestinian Solidarity” Thursday on Binghamton University’s Spine.

The rally invited the campus community to stand and march in solidarity with besieged civilians in the Gaza Strip amid continued violence in the region. While the rally was largely in response to recent developments, it also called attention to the lengthy historical context behind the Palestinian cause, specifically referencing the Nakba — the mass displacement of Palestinians and the destruction of their property in 1948 — the same year the State of Israel was established.

SJP’s E-Board expressed disgust at the Western media’s omission of the Israeli military’s use of illegal munitions on Gaza, where around 40 percent of the population is under the age of 15, as reported by human rights groups.

“Our protest is not merely a response to ‘airstrikes’ but to the total blockade of food, water, electricity and medical supplies contingent upon the return of Israeli prisoners — a flagrant violation of the [fourth] Geneva Convention’s article on collective punishment,” the E-Board wrote in an email. “Israel has bombed humanitarian corridors, marked ambulances, press and [United Nations] employees. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are now internally displaced by a state terror campaign that dwarfs the Palestinian incursion.”

As a crowd formed outside the Library Tower at 1 p.m. — with counterprotesters close by — SJP’s E-Board read their organization’s code of conduct, discouraging engagement with the opposition and condemning antisemitism and hate speech.

The rally began with a statement from Mousa Tous, a member of SJP’s E-Board and a senior majoring in political science, who explained the importance of the event.

“I would say we wouldn’t be here without you, but that is not a choice that everyone on E-Board and a lot of you present today have,” Tous said. “To the generations that have lived, experienced, seen and grown up in the era of occupation, resistance is not a choice.”

On Sunday, Israel declared war on Hamas — the militant group ruling Gaza — after its fighters staged a cross-border assault that killed over 1,300 Israelis and left at least 3,000 injured. Subsequent Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 1,800 Gazans, with over 7,388 injured. On Thursday night, the Israeli government warned 1 million Gazan civilians to evacuate to the south of the enclave within 24 hours, which the United Nations called “impossible” and said would lead to “devastating humanitarian consequences.” This is a developing situation. For more information, visit New York Times live updates.

Rally attendees marched down the Spine through a corridor of counterprotesters holding Israeli flags. The BU Zionist Organization (BUZO) organized a silent protest in response to the rally. In a statement on Instagram, they shared the purpose behind their presence.

“Our silence echoed our solidarity with the lives lost to terror in Israel and shed light on the ongoing threats faced by many,” the statement read. “Through our placards, we shared personal stories, histories, and connections to the conflict.”

The march continued around campus with University Police Department (UPD) officers present. Rally participants chanted phrases, including “free, free Palestine,” “brick by brick, wall by wall, apartheid has got to fall,” “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “long live the Intifada.”

Zairah Ahmed, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law who attended the rally, expressed support for the Palestinian people.

“I came to this rally today because I wanted to show solidarity for all the Palestinian lives that are being lost and have been lost in the past 75 years, but also to show solidarity for all the Israeli lives taken by Hamas,” Ahmed said. “I very much appreciate every single speech that was given, and how they started off by showing how different Palestinian liberation is from the actions of Hamas, and how those do not equate.”

After two loops around the Spine, the crowd reassembled outside the Library Tower to hear from representatives from student organizations supporting SJP, including the Feminist Collective, the Henna Club and BU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapter.

John Ferrara, YDSA’s treasurer and a junior double-majoring in Italian and biology, emphasized the importance of student activism and reiterated his continued support for SJP.

“I was pessimistic because I know how threatening [it is] to express anti-Zionist beliefs on this campus, but clearly we’re not alone,” Ferrara said. “Everyone showed up, [and] I’m really proud of every organization that took part in this, and as long as there is a Palestinian struggle, YDSA will be there to support.”

While marching by the Peace Quad, a counterprotester approached the crowd with profane gestures and loud verbal opposition, but the situation was quickly diffused by UPD. As the rally concluded, the same counterprotester, along with several other students holding Israeli flags, confronted the rally participants. Officers formed a line between the two groups until the crowd dissipated.

“Today was a very emotional event but ‘free Palestine,’ and all I can say is that my prayers and my thoughts are with every single victim of this violence,” Ahmed said.