New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Mills responds to recent Hamas and Israeli attacks

Students at NYU’s Tel Aviv program sheltered amid recent airstrike and rocket attacks from the Israeli military and a militant group in the Gaza Strip, before embarking on a trip to Abu Dhabi.

Students studying away at NYU Tel Aviv were told to remain in their dorms following a Hamas-led rocket attack in occupied Palestine yesterday, which was met with Israeli military airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas — the Islamist militant group controlling the Gaza Strip — launched an attack on nearby Israeli towns, including the firing of thousands of rockets, breaching of security barriers and hostage-taking of Israeli soldiers and civilians. In response, the Israeli military fired airstrikes and heavy artillery in Gaza. 

In a universitywide statement this morning, NYU president Linda Mills called the developing situation a “deadly terrorist attack on Israel” and said leadership at NYU’s Tel Aviv program has accounted for and been in touch with all its students, faculty and staff. Mills said the university has also been in contact with students’ families to update them on their safety.

“The fighting is uncommonly intense, with widespread violence, injuries and loss of life, as well as hostage-taking of Israelis by Hamas,” Mills wrote in the statement. “NYU is very focused on our Tel Aviv program, and we continue to monitor conditions closely.”

The conflict is the most recent development in Hamas’ retaliation against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The military’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza includes hostile air raids and missile bombings of buildings in Gaza City killing civilians, including children. So far, the death toll totals around 800 and thousands have been wounded in both territories. 

A student at NYU Tel Aviv, who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, said the first alarms at their residence hall went off yesterday at around 7:30 a.m., with subsequent alarms going off at around 10:30 a.m., 8 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Students stayed at the hall’s shelter until given the all clear by residence hall staff. The student said that there was no initial communication between NYU Tel Aviv and the university’s Washington Square campus. 

“The RAs were banging on our doors and shouting for everyone to get into shelters. As we were running to the shelter, we heard a rocket somewhere very close by which was kind of scary,” the student said. “We really haven’t heard anything from NYC or NYU. When the bombings and the rockets just started, the staff here was trying to get in contact with the NYC staff.” 

Students and faculty in Tel Aviv boarded a flight to the United Arab Emirates earlier today for a weeklong trip to NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus, which was scheduled months prior to the current situation in occupied Palestine. Collin Byun, a senior in the Tel Aviv program, said he isn’t planning to return to Tel Aviv after the Abu Dhabi trip. 

“We heard a bang, it was very violent,” Byun said. “Safety is always a concern. At the end of the day, I understand that it is a conflict. This is different from what most conflicts are.”

The initial strikes by Hamas — an operation called “Al-Aqsa Flood” — were in response to increasing tensions in the occupied West Bank, including increased Israeli settlements and the military’s recent uptick in aggression in East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Following the strikes, Palestinians from Gaza broke through the border between the Gaza Strip and occupied Palestine. Palestinians in Gaza have been under a border blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt since Hamas first took control in 2007, making this the first time Palestinians have ever taken full control of the region. 

In response to the Hamas attacks and the Israeli military’s airstrikes in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country is now “at war” with Hamas and the government’s security cabinet recently declared “a state of war.” U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the Hamas attacks and warned against other outside parties hostile to Israel “seeking advantage in this situation.”

Félix Romier, a senior studying at NYU Tel Aviv, said he feels safe compared to those living in other parts of the country. He said he doesn’t expect the situation to be resolved any time soon. 

“I ran to the shelter and there was a huge blast,” Romier said. “We didn’t really know what it was, where it was, if we were safe or not. I went up to the roof and I saw some smoke, and I realized that something had struck very close to us.”

Elle Liu contributed reporting.

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Editor-in-Chief
Yezen Saadah is a junior studying cinema studies, journalism and Middle Eastern studies. He's a lover of cinema, history, art and literature, and he enjoys writing about pretty much anything. If he isn't in the newsroom or at the movies, he's probably just trying to enjoy his day off. Contact him on Instagram @yezen.saadah or send tips to [email protected]

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