Robbery attempt of Israeli flag at UC Berkeley rally for Palestine

It's the second attempted robbery during a Palestine rally of a student's Israeli flag since last week, campus officials told The Scanner.

Robbery attempt of Israeli flag at UC Berkeley rally for Palestine
UCPD sent out a WarnMe alert about a robbery on campus Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Jeremy Huang

Two people tried to steal an Israeli flag from a UC Berkeley student during a rally for Palestine on campus Wednesday, authorities report.

The culprits were unable to take the flag, UCPD said, but struck the student in the head with his metal water bottle before fleeing the scene.

It's the second attempted robbery of an Israeli flag from a student during a Palestine rally since last week, campus officials told The Scanner.

On Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., a 21-year-old UC Berkeley student told authorities he had been targeted in a battery and robbery attempt several minutes earlier during a rally, the University of California Police Department said.

The event, described as a UC Berkeley walkout in support of Palestine, was scheduled to take place on Sproul Plaza at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Bears for Palestine Instagram feed.

During the rally, two people "approached the victim and attempted to steal the Israeli flag he was holding," UCPD told The Scanner.

The student held onto his flag and the assailants "began pulling on his backpack, causing his metal water bottle to fall to the ground."

One of them picked up the metal water bottle "and struck the victim in the head with it," police said.

The pair fled the area and the student declined medical treatment, police said.

Police did not provide any additional details about the involved parties.

Tensions over Israel, Gaza have been high on campus

Tensions have been high on campus since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Earlier this month, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ put out a "call for community on campus," which decried violence and included messages from two faculty members, one Palestinian and one Israeli.

Last week, a viral video spread online showing violence against a different Jewish student during a pro-Palestine rally Oct. 16.

The Scanner asked UC Berkeley about the online reports.

On Monday, campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said that the student targeted last week, "did not, in his report to police, allege that he was struck. He did allege that force was used in an effort to take his personal property, an Israeli flag. That is attempted robbery, a serious crime."

Mogulof said that the student was being supported and that authorities are working to identify those involved in last week's incident.

"The campus and the police department are taking this very seriously," he said. "The alleged behavior is simply intolerable and at odds with what this university stands for."

Mogulof also said the university has "a long-standing commitment to ensuring appropriate consequences are imposed when laws are broken and/or the Code of Student Conduct is violated."

UCPD robbery reports in Berkeley

UCPD has had 10 other robbery reports over the past six months, according to, a repository for local police data.

The Berkeley Police Department has gotten more than 300 robbery reports, a 22% increase over this time last year, according to BPD data.

Additional details were added to this story after publication as they became available.

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