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Cops at Yale arrest ‘violent’ anti-Israel protesters after Jewish student journalist stabbed in eye

Despite arrests, ‘street occupation’ protest continued Monday afternoon

Police in riot gear on Monday began arresting Yale University students camped out on a school plaza after approximately 200 students had run an anti-Israel protest for several days. 

A Jewish student journalist said she had been stabbed in the eye with a flagpole at the scene on Saturday night in what’s been described as a raucous and “violent” dayslong protest by many observers.

“There’s hundreds of people taunting me and waving the middle finger at me, and then this person waves a Palestinian flag in my face and jabs it in my eye,” student Sahar Tartak told the New York Post, adding she took an ambulance to the hospital to have it checked out and is shopping for an eye patch.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sunday described the scene as “violent,” noting “hundreds of protesters flooded the main campus, pitched 40 tents, blocked Yale’s main dining hall, chanted for the annihilation of Israel, and denounced America.”

Written by Yale senior Gabriel Diamond, he added: “On Friday night the mob cheered as students ripped down the American flag in front of a memorial for fallen soldiers and tried to burn it.”

Forty-seven protesters were arrested by Yale police at Beinecke Plaza early this morning and charged with trespassing in the first degree, a Class A misdemeanor, The Yale Daily News reported

Despite the police action, protesters on Monday afternoon continued to block an intersection outside of the plaza and chanted, which Yale allowed, social media posts show. Pro-Palestinian media is calling it a “street occupation.”

Prior to the police action, the dean of Yale College, Pericles Lewis, explained to the Daily News there had been “over five hours of negotiations yesterday, he extended the deadline multiple times, ‘but could not go past midnight.’”

Lewis said for several days he had offered the protesters meetings with trustees to discuss divestment and no punishment for trespassing, and there would have been no arrests had the students cleared the plaza by 6 a.m., but the demonstrators refused to stand down.

It is not clear what academic punishments would follow the arrests. Lewis told the News an executive committee “normally administers reprimands, probation or suspension– ‘Or in extreme case expulsion.’”

On Saturday night, Tartak, a Jewish student journalist who was there to cover the protest, which was about 500 students strong at the time, said she was stabbed in the eye by a masked man with a flagpole bearing a Palestinian flag. Student editor of the Yale Free Press, Tartak described herself in a Free Press report as “a visibly observant Jew who wears a large Star of David around my neck and dresses modestly.”

“When we approached the anti-Israel protest accompanying the tent encampment to document the demonstration,” she wrote, “we were quickly walled off by demonstration organizers and attendees who stood in a line in front of us. No one else documenting the event was blockaded this way.”

Tartak was surrounded by protesters in a tight circle and at one point they danced around her and she did not have the freedom to walk about, she wrote. This also happened to a male, Hasidic student who accompanied her. “They shoved us and waved flashlights in our eyes,” she wrote in the Free Press.

While Tartak was encircled, “They pointed their middle fingers at me and yelled ‘Free Palestine,’ and the taunting continued until a six-foot-something male protester holding a Palestinian flag waved the flag in my face then stabbed me with it in my left eye.”

The crowd prevented her from pursuing and identifying her attacker and Yale police did not help, she wrote; an EMT on the scene recommended Tartak go to the hospital, which she did. 

“The midnight demonstration, the encampment, the violence, all of it violates Yale policy. Some of it, like my assault, also violates state and federal law,” she wrote. “Yet nothing meaningful seems to happen in response. Given Yale’s permissiveness, I had the sinking feeling that someone would get hurt. I just didn’t expect it to be me.”

The weekend’s bad press for Yale, in the Free Press, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, among other outlets, may have forced the administration to act decisively Monday with the arrests, though some faculty continued to send the protesters support.

In a related move, on Sunday evening a group of 12 Yale graduate students and two undergrads who had been on a hunger strike for divestment from Israel for eight days announced they were ending their strike. 

                          MORE: Yale students threaten hunger strike if no divestment from Israel by Friday

IMAGE: YouTube screenshot / WFSB

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