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IDF Soldier Met with Protests, Evacuation at Worcester State University

By Tom Marino | March 14, 2024
Last Updated: March 15, 2024

WORCESTER – An appearance by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservist at Worcester State University was met with protests and a temporary evacuation of the building where the event was held on Wednesday. The event was held inside the Eager Auditorium at the Sulivan Academic Center at the university.

Shahar Peled, 30, an IDF Special Forces Commander in the reserves, says his unit was one of the first responders to attacks by the militant group Hamas, and allied groups, on Oct. 7, 2023. He also says he has served in the resulting military operation launched in response to the attacks by Israel. Promotional material for the event says Peled’s “desire to expose the truth,” has inspired him to travel “around the globe to share his story – including personal loss, and a first-hand account of the atrocities he has seen.”

The militant group Hamas and its allies launched an attack from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Oct. 7  that led to 1,163 killed, of which 695 were Israeli civilians, 71 non-citizens, and 373 security forces. Of those killed, 36 were children. The government also says 253 hostages were taken, of which 105 were released in November. There are 101 hostages believed to be alive who remain in captivity.

The resulting military offensive launched by Israel into Gaza had reportedly killed over 30,000 by the end of February, with over half being women and children. Reports indicate Gaza is on the brink of famine.

Video of the event posted online shows some attendees protesting while a fire alarm sounds.


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A post shared by Boston PSL (@bostonpsl)

According to faculty at Worcester State University, the history department did not sponsor this event, despite what the above Instagram post says.

Video obtained by This Week in Worcester shows multiple people standing outside as a result of a fire alarm, while protestors are heard chanting.

YouTube video

Video by Sam Bishop

Attendees told This Week in Worcester that Peled made multiple false claims during the event, including that the attack resulted in “beheaded babies” on Oct. 7. Soon after the attacks, reports indicated 40 babies were beheaded in the attack. Peled also made the claim in an interview with Newsmax posted to YouTube one month ago.

YouTube video

Peled’s claim is false.

Mila Cohen, 9 months, died of a gunshot wound in Kibbutz Be’eri, Israel on Oct. 7. She was the only child under one-year-old killed in the attack. The total number of children under 10-years-old killed in the attack was 14.

Attendees also say that Peled claimed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Israel was not committing genocide in Gaza. This claim is also false.

In December, the government of South Africa filed an “Application instituting proceedings against Israel concerning alleged violations in the Gaza Strip of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” After hearing arguments, the IJC could have concluded evidence didn’t exist to support the claim of genocide and ended the case. Instead, the court found there is a basis for the case to continue and issued five provisional measures that Israel must immediately take, including preserving evidence. The full case will take years to adjudicate.

March 14, 2024

Lead Image Credit: Sam Bishop

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the history department at Worcester State University was not a sponsor of this event.

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