University students in the United Kingdom have been protesting against their institutions’ defence-related deals with Israel. While United States’ campuses too are in turmoil over continuing genocide in Gaza, India is strengthening defence deals with Israel.

The “Newcastle Apartheid off Campus” said that students were outraged after Newcastle University apparently signed a partnership with Leonardo SpA, a defence and security company that they claim is responsible for producing the laser targeting system for the Israel Defence Forces’ F-35 fighter jets being used in the war in Gaza.

‘The Telegraph’ reported that though the student union had passed motions with 95% of people in favour of calling on the university to end its ties with Leonardo, and multiple ‘Leonardo off Campus’ protests on its campus, the university had not listened to students’ concerns.

The University of York said in a statement that it “no longer holds investments in companies that primarily make or sell weapons and defence-related products or services”.

This followed prolonged pressure and protests from students and staff since the beginning of the war in Gaza in October 2023.

In Manchester, 50 students demanded that the university end its partnership with BAE Systems and other arms companies, cut its ties with Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and stop all “unethical research”.

A spokesperson for “Universities UK” which speaks for 142 institutions told the Telegraph: “Universities are monitoring the latest news on campus protests in the US and Canada.

“As with any high-profile issue, universities work hard to strike the right balance between ensuring the safety of all students and staff, including preventing harassment, and supporting lawful free speech on campus. We continue to meet regularly to discuss the latest position with university leaders.”

The Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine (SCCP) began an encampment in solidarity with Palestinians. The SCCP is a coalition of staff, students, and alumni from the universities of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam.

The SCCP said there was a mass walkout from lectures, followed by a demonstration, and that many students were prepared to camp “indefinitely” in tents outside the student union.

This followed an encampment at the University of Warwick, which began last week.

A first-year student told the ‘Telegraph’: “The courage that those students have shown when faced with extreme violence from the police – it’s like a call that needs to be answered and picked up across the world.”

In the United States, at least 17 student protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing after police were called to the University of Texas at Dallas to take down anti-Israel encampments that were established on campus in violation of the school’s code of conduct.

In Florida, among other states, police have dispersed campus rallies with tear gas. In Wisconsin, photos showed officers detaining a Madison professor with blood smeared on his forehead, the Washington Post reported.

In California, masked men attacked a pro-Palestinian encampment on a Los Angeles campus. Students criticised police for not intervening sooner. Fifteen injuries, including a hospitalisation, were reported after officers quelled the violence.

In Portland State University, students barricaded themselves in a library and spray-painted “FREE GAZA” on the wall.

Since mid-April, student groups have pushed for institutions to cut ties with Israel and companies supporting its military campaign against Hamas that has killed about 34,000 people in Gaza.

In Columbia and City Universities in New York, over 300 protesters were arrested. In the last 14 days 1,700 had been taken into custody, the Post said.

Columbia has opted to maintain a police presence on campus — an unusual move that surprised Edward Davis, a former commissioner of the Boston Police Department who now runs a security consultancy.

“It’s an indication that this is not a problem that’s going to go away quickly,” he said. Protesters, his office added, had ignored “several” commands to disperse.

In Wisconsin, four police officers and three sheriff’s deputies were injured while trying to shut down illegal camping, according to a spokesperson from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Authorities arrested nearly three dozen protesters. At least two Wisconsin University Madison professors, who were detained, described injuries on social media or in interviews from the scene.

The striking visuals of officers flooding college campuses have triggered condemnation from labour leaders and left-leaning politicians, the ‘Post’ reported.

“When I was 11, I was a victim of police brutality just for being Black in America,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said on X. “Now I see that brutality being inflicted on peaceful students at Columbia and across the country.”

At the University of California (Los Angeles), counter-protesters tried to tear down makeshift barricades surrounding an encampment and aimed fireworks at where students were camping.

Some of the pro-Palestinian activists tried to defend themselves with lumber and pepper spray.

The ‘New York Times’ said that whatever one’s views on the pro-Palestinian demonstrations sweeping the nation’s colleges, the decision by the New York Police Department on Tuesday to block journalists from witnessing its raid on Columbia University was a clear infringement of the First Amendment.

“Members of the public have a right to know what their law enforcement authorities are doing on American campuses, and they were kept in the dark at a critical moment. Instead of first-hand accounts by professional or student journalists, Americans had to rely on the accounts of Mayor Eric Adams and police officials, as well as videos posted to social media by the department.”

New York City officials said on Wednesday that 109 people were arrested at Columbia and 173 people at City College in Manhattan.

On Capitol Hill, Washington, Republican party leaders prepared to present a bill that they said would empower the federal government to curb anti-Israel protests on campuses by codifying a definition of anti-Semitism that includes certain criticisms of the Jewish state.

House of Representatives Majority Whip, Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) blasted what he saw as leniency towards “pro-terrorist anti-Semites.” The legislation passed the House by a 320-91 vote, with a majority of Democrats joining Republicans.

Several Republican lawmakers have urged President Biden to call on the National Guard to dismantle encampments.

Former President Donald Trump said: “To every college president, I say: remove the encampments immediately. Vanquish the radicals and take back our campuses for all of the normal students who want a safe place from which to learn.”

Trump called protesters “raging lunatics and Hamas sympathisers” and added: “Your towns and villages will now be accepting people from Gaza and various other places.”

Meanwhile, India is planning to extend its defence cooperation with Israel, the ‘Mint’ had reported on March 28.

Israel Aerospace Industries launched its Indian subsidiary, Aerospace Services India, with plans to set up a large-scale hub in Gurugram near Delhi for maintenance and repair of the Medium-Range Surface-to-air Missile (MRSAM) system.

It is a joint venture of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israeli Aerospace Industries.

The missile system is produced at Bharat Dynamics Ltd (which is headquartered in Hyderabad), with active participation from Indian public and private defence industry partners including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

According to Bharat Dynamics, MRSAM is a supersonic missile that can be launched vertically with a rapid response time and is intended to intercept various airborne threats such as guided bombs, aircraft, missiles and helicopters. It has different variations for use by the army, navy and the air force.

“We are already looking to expand beyond MRSAM programme to other defence programmes and other products that customers require us to do," Danny Lauber, Chief Executive of the Israeli Aerospace Industries.

In 2022, it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to convert civil (passenger) aircraft to multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) aircraft in India. In 2023, it signed another MoU with Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) to tap opportunities in short-range air defence systems.

“Some of the new technologies will be acquired, some will be jointly developed in India. We are looking into manufacturing as well. " Lauber had told ‘Mint’.