About 100 Stanford students gathered Friday afternoon on campus to protest Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip, calling for a cease fire to end the conflict.
The students have also started a petition drive to attempt to persuade the Stanford Board of Trustees to disinvest in companies that "violate international and humanitarian law" in the Gaza conflict, Fadi Quran, co-president of Students Confronting Israeli Apartheid, told the crowd.
Meanwhile, perhaps 75 pro-Israel supporters gathered in a counter-demonstration with the two sides, separated by a double-bike lane running through White Plaza, facing each other and sometimes chanting at each other.
One side spelled out "Cease Fire Now" in single-letter placards held by a dozen or so students, while others held up "Let Gaza Live" and "End the Massacre in Gaza Now" signs.
The other side had two large Israeli flags, many smaller ones, and a large American flag, and included people from the surrounding community, in addition to some students.
The protests were peaceful and limited to chanting. A candlelight prayer vigil on Thursday night included some pro-Israeli supporters who came to counter-demonstrate but then joined in the prayer vigil, according to Nabill Idrisi, co-president of Students Confronting Israeli Apartheid.
"The U.S. needs to stop providing weapons to Israel," Quron said. "War crimes have been committed by Hamas and by Israel." He argued that Hamas has become more popular among Palestinians after Israel attacked the Palestinian political and military group two years ago. Hamas, he acknowledged, "does bad things."
Hamas has fired more than 3,000 rockets into Israeli communities over the last year, leading to the recent Israeli military invasion, Israel supporters say.
"They do not recognize Israel's right to exist, as part of their charter," Bryan Myers, a Stanford professor emeritus of medicine, said of Hamas.
People living in Israeli communities "have been terrorized by the rocket attacks," Carl Grumet, also a professor emeritus of medicine, said. The rocket attacks, he added, "have no military value."
"I support the overall concept to protect both sides," student Josh Weinstein said. "The onslaught of rockets is intolerable."
Arye Schreiber, a Stanford MBA student, is also an Israeli who once served in Gaza as a member of the Israeli Defense Force and supports the decision of Israel to take action in Gaza.
"Every Israeli dreams of a peaceful Gaza and a peaceful neighbor," he said.