WASHINGTON: An Arab advocacy group has claimed that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has detained some Palestinian Americans, apparently for participating in protest rallies against Israel.

“We have received multiple calls today regarding Palestinian nationals detained by ICE, and/or visited by the FBI,” Abed Ayoub, the executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said in a tweet posted on Thursday.

“The FBI has also visited multiple mosques on Thursday, in different states, as well as Arab inmates. This is a troubling trend,” he wrote.

Some Palestinian Americans detained for participating in rallies

His claim could not be independently confirmed.

Earlier this week, students at the prestigious Harvard University also faced nationwide condemnation for writing a letter that blamed Israel for allegedly starting the process that led to this week’s rocket attacks by Hamas.

A truck toured the campus, displaying the names of groups and individuals who signed that letter while CEOs of some US firms announced that they would not hire the signatories.

Despite the harsh reaction, the protests have continued. In the last two days, both pro- and anti-Israel protests were held at campuses across the country.

At Columbia University, New York, hundreds showed up in a pro-Palestinian rally despite a widespread fear of retributions.

During the protests, two groups of pro- and anti-Israel protesters came face-to-face, chanting slogans against each other but dispersed peacefully. University officials blocked public access to the New York City campus as a safety measure.

At Georgetown University in Washington, the local chapter of a group called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) hosted a vigil on Thursday night but declined to allow media access “due to increased harassment and threats of violence”, they said in a statement.

Dozens of students from the University of California Los Angeles chapter of SJP held a march for Palestine on Thursday, at their campus.

At the University of Washington, Seattle, a rally was held to ‘uplift the just Palestinian resistance’ and ‘condemn the state of Israel’. Protesters held signs that read “Free Palestine” and “To Exist is to Resist”.

About 100 feet (30 meters) away, students backing Israel silently held up posters with the faces of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.

Similar protests were also held at TUFTS, University of Virginia, and a dozen other campuses.

Meanwhile, SJP and other groups plan to observe “days of resistance”, with demonstrations by its 200 chapters at colleges across North America during this weekend.

The group, which advocates for an independent Palestine and said it believes “in freedom, solidarity, equality, safety and historical justice” for all.

But SJP’s University of Arizona, Tucson chapter, canceled a protest on Thursday, citing safety concerns after the school’s president called the gathering “antithetical to our university’s values”.

Demonstrators are also planned at Times Square, New York. A pro-Israeli Muslim group – Muslims for Israel – also planned a protest outside the White House late Friday.

A larger protest by pro-Palestinian groups are scheduled on Saturday.

Security officials have put parts of Washington and other areas across the country on heightened alert to prevent violence during the weekend protests.

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