Hundreds of protesters at UC Berkeley rally against Rafah invasion

Members of the Bay Area chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement held an "All Out for Rafah" rally at UC Berkeley on Tuesday, a day after Israel rejected a ceasefire with Hamas and hours after the IDF took control of Gaza's vital border crossing.

The atmosphere at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza was relatively calm on Tuesday as protesters flowed onto the campus. However, campus police sent out a notification that at 5:09 p.m. a man was struck by several other men with a skateboard after a verbal altercation at Sproul Plaza. Authorities did not reveal if that altercation was tied to the protest.

Sproul Plaza, where student pro-Palestinian protesters established a 'Gaza Solidarity Encampment' in late April, has witnessed confrontations in the past between protesters and counterprotesters in the wake of the Israel–Hamas war.

However, as Tuesday's rally got underway, the atmosphere was tranquil.

Similar rallies were planned in cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Austin, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. 

This is the same group that's organized protests on Bay Area bridges, shutting down traffic for hours as they call attention to the plight of the nearly 35,000 people in Gaza who have been killed since the Oct. 7 Israel-Hamas war. 

Tensions have continued to ratchet up in standoffs with protesters on campuses across the U.S. — and increasingly, in Europe — nearly three weeks into a movement launched by a protest at Columbia University. 

Some colleges have cracked down immediately on protests against the Israel-Hamas war. Universities such as the University of Southern California and Columbia have canceled graduations. 

Among those that have tolerated the tent encampments, some have begun to lose patience and call in police over concerns about disruptions to campus life, safety and the involvement of nonstudents.

UC Berkeley, Stanford University and San Francisco State University have all been sites of recent protests and tent encampments. None have turned especially violent, though three people were injured at a recent Cal rally. 

On Monday, Hamas agreed to a ceasefire proposal, but Israel insisted the deal fell short of its own core demands.

By capturing the Rafah crossing, Israel gained full control over the entry and exit of people and goods for the first time since it withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, though it has long maintained a blockade of the coastal enclave in cooperation with Egypt.

The Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel are critical entry points for food, medicine and other supplies for Gaza’s 2.3 million people

The looming operation threatens to widen a rift between Israel and its main backer, the United States, which says it is concerned over the fate of around 1.3 million Palestinians crammed into Rafah, most of whom fled fighting elsewhere.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.