Police crack down on US campus protests as tensions over Gaza war simmer

Police tore down a protest encampment at the University of Texas on Wednesday, arresting more than a dozen people, as unrest over Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza simmered on US campuses.

Officers also detained several people at Fordham University in New York and cleared an encampment set up inside a school building, officials said, and law enforcement were on standby at Columbia University across town after mass arrests the previous evening.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology protesters dug in, blocking an avenue near the centre of the campus in Cambridge during the height of Wednesday afternoon's rush hour commute.

And dozens of police cars patrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles in response to violent clashes overnight when counter-protesters attacked an encampment of pro-Palestinian students.

The University of Texas Dallas saw police remove an encampment and arrest at least 17 people for "criminal trespass," the school said.

Demonstrators have gathered in at least 30 US universities since last month, often erecting tent encampments to protest the soaring death toll in the Gaza Strip.

But the sight of helmeted officers at two of America's most prestigious universities left some students dismayed.

"I don't think we should have a heavy police force on campus," UCLA student Mark Torre, 22, told AFP as he surveyed the scene from behind metal barriers.

"But more and more, day by day, I think it's a necessary evil, to at least keep safety on campus."

The militants also took about 250 hostages.


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