Yale students continue hunger strike in protest over Israel’s war on Gaza

<span>Damaged buildings in Khan Younis in Gaza on Friday.</span><span>Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images</span>
Damaged buildings in Khan Younis in Gaza on Friday.Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

A group of students at Yale University were on Friday into the seventh day of a hunger strike in support of Palestinians in Gaza and in a protest to pressure the university to divest from any weapons manufacturing companies potentially supplying the Israeli military.

The group titles itself Yale Hunger Strikers for Palestine and one protester, the graduate student Miguel Monteiro, described losing weight and feeling dizzy, while attempting to put the group’s efforts into a wider perspective.

“Our heads are spinning, we have a lack of concentration, and difficulty sleeping,” Monteiro said. “But the point goes back to what we’ve been trying to say since the beginning, which is this is absolutely nothing compared with what is being inflicted upon the people of Gaza.”

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Monteiro is only drinking water and electrolytes. He has not had any solid food since the strike began on campus nearly a week ago.

The group decided to resort to hunger strike after a letter calling for a commitment to divest from such companies was sent to the university’s president, Peter Salovey, but was left unanswered.

The students had warned the head of the school that if he failed to respond within 48 hours that “students would refuse food in solidarity with the Palestinian people, in opposition to Yale”.

The action continued as police arrested more than 100 students who created an encampment in support of Palestine on campus at Columbia University in New York on Thursday.

Students at some other universities such as McGill in Montreal have engaged in similar hunger strikes. Students there are calling for the institution to divest about $20m from companies with products used by the Israeli military, such as Lockheed Martin, which supplies Israeli with fighter jets.

The Yale Corporation, also known as the board of trustees of the university, will hold its final meeting of the year on Saturday, and students on hunger strike hope their pleas to divest will be heard.

Yale did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but instead referred to a public statement on the hunger strike, which read, in part: “Staff members will continue to emphasize the importance of student health and wellbeing during this time. Students participating in a hunger strike are encouraged to consult with clinicians at Yale Health.

“For more than 50 years, the university has employed a rigorous process to ensure the ethical management of its endowment, guided first and foremost by these longstanding principles. The Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility (CCIR) considers and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees on policy matters related to ethical investing. It is supported by the work of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR), whose members include alumni, staff, faculty, and students.”

Yale said the ACIR is looking into the issue of divestment and preparing to provide an update within the coming weeks.