Sunday, July 12, 2020

Israeli troops raid Birzeit University

By Beth Staton - June 19, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Birzeit University] [Education] [raids]

One of the Birzeit University offices raided and ransacked by the Israeli army.

The crackdown in the West Bank took a troubling turn last night, as the Israeli military raided Birzeit University, invoking invoking bitter memories of the harsh educational crackdowns throughout the First and Second Intifada.

At around 2 am Thursday morning, dozens of soldiers in military jeeps arrived at the Birzeit campus, after surrounding it on all sides. They proceeded to search buildings around the site, including the students’ union, entering some buildings by force. Israeli media sources reported that “propaganda and incitement items” were found and confiscated; photographs show troops seizing large quantities of Hamas flags.

“They broke the doors and locks in a brutal way and detained the security officers ,” Mumen Iwaidah, a student at Birzeit University, told Palestine Monitor. “They tried to arrest some students who protested against the detention of Palestinian prisoners. The students escaped before they got in.”

Agencies reported that two students, members of the student branch of Hamas who were staging a sit-in against the Palestinian Authority’s arrest of their classmates at the time of the raid, were arrested.

“Birzeit University views this attack as very dangerous and a barbaric intrusion,” the University said in a statement on its website. It described the raid as a “direct violation of the sanctity of our university and a blatant attack on the right to education and the freedom of education guaranteed by international conventions and law.”

The University particularly condemned the conversion of academic facilities into military barracks, confiscation of student property, and an attempt to force open administrative offices. The incursion, the statement said, had “wiped out” the eastern and western gates of the university, and the science faculty was searched.

Eyewitnesses said Dr. Khalil al-Hindi, the Director of the University, attempted to enter the campus during the attack, but was stopped by soldiers. ”They prevented anyone from coming into the University,” Iwaidah said. “After three hours they retreated after all of this damage.”

During the First Intifada, Israeli forces closed down Birzeit University for five years, forcing students and academics to hold classes secretly in homes, offices, mosques and community centres.

In the statement, Birzeit confirmed its commitment to higher education despite the attacks. “Birzeit University will remain a university for all Palestinians, with their diverse ideas and various political schools of thought,” it said. “Our students will continue to be distinguished intellectuals and leaders in their communities. The provocative measures taken by the Israeli occupation will only lead to a greater conviction and commitment of the university community, academics, staff and students, to the values of freedom, justice and democracy.” 


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