A rally in solidarity with Israel’s rocket-battered south at Tel Aviv University was halted minutes after it started, when a bus was blown up in the center of the city at around noon Wednesday.

Twenty-one people were hurt in the explosion.

In the curtailed event on TAU’s campus, organized by the TAU Student Union, a representative of the union addressed the crowd and welcomed dozens of children who had come to enjoy a few days of quiet away from their bombarded homes in the south of Israel.

Tel Aviv is in an “uneasy situation,” the union representative told those present. “We’re living in an almost routine life, and down in the south everything has stopped.” Because of this, “it is important for students and faculty to take a time-out from their lives and routine” and think about “the residents of the south,” he said.

Lectures and courses were canceled for an hour to allow for maximum participation.

The university’s sporting facilities hosted the visiting children for a day of swimming, basketball and other sporting activities, conducted by student union volunteers.

While one of the adults from the south was thanking the volunteers at the rally, a balloon popped, causing one the children to scream. “Even balloons are a problem,” the speaker told the crowd.

A blood drive at Tel Aviv University, Thursday (photo credit: Aaron Kalman)

A blood drive at Tel Aviv University, Thursday (photo credit: Aaron Kalman)

A blood-donation station was opened and scores of students lined up to donate to the national blood bank.

On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of Arab students had protested the IDF’s ongoing bombing of terror targets in Gaza. They gathered in front of the campus gates, alongside Jewish activists who called for an end to killings on both sides of the conflict.

At Haifa University last week, a number of Arab students stood silent for a minute in memory of Ahmed Jabari after the Hamas military commander was killed by the IDF at the start of Operation Pillar of Defense. At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem there were confrontations between students who support the operation and those who oppose it.