Israeli forces raid Birzeit WB campus during student strike

Israeli forces raid student strike at Birzeit University campus in the West Bank
3 min read
West Bank
11 January, 2022
The raid is the second in less than a month. In December, Israeli forces stormed the campus at night, breaking into the faculty buildings and searching them
Some 69 Palestinian students from Birzeit university are currently arrested by Israeli forces [Getty]

Israeli forces raided the campus of Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank on Monday, arresting five Palestinian students.

Two of them were released later at night.

The raid is the second in less than a month. In December, Israeli forces stormed the campus at night, breaking into the faculty buildings and searching them.

The Israeli raid on Monday happened while the university was witnessing a student strike against hiked tuition fees. The students arrested were taking part in the protest activities.

 

“There is a constant sense of being targeted”, Mays Abu Ghosh, a student in her last semester, told The New Arab. “Students who are involved in student unions feel it more than others; you expect to be arrested at any time, at any place”, she added.

Abu Ghosh was arrested by Israeli forces in 2019. Human rights groups reported she had been physically assaulted during questioning at the time. She was later sentenced to a year in prison for student activism.

“The student movement in Palestine fights two battles at the same time”, she said, “the struggle to make education available to everyone, and the struggle to keep the university involved in the larger national struggle for liberation”, she added.

Social and political pressure

Abu Ghosh said that “Israeli crackdown on the student movement comes at the same time that the university administration has raised the cost of studying and living in the campus”.

"They both undermine freedom of education and of student unionism".

However, Abu Ghosh insists that “the Palestinian Authority could solve half of the problem if it gave more importance to education in its budget”.

'Hardened positions'

Dr. Ghassan Al Khatib, deputy president of Birzeit University, told The New Arab that “part of the problem comes...from the fact that the PA doesn’t comply with its financial commitments towards the university, which raises tensions in the university every year”.

“However, it is not true that these social tensions undermine freedom of student activism”, he insisted. “We are proud to have a democratic environment at Birzeit university, and we stand united with the students to condemn Israeli raids and arrests of students”.

Dr. Al-Khatib noted that “the crisis between the student movement and the university administration was on its way to a solution. The Israeli raid hardened some positions and set the negotiations back”.

Birzeit University released a statement late on Monday, announcing that all disciplinary measures taken against student activists in the previous weeks were suspended, in reaction to the Israeli raid on the campus.

Birzeit University is the second largest Palestinian university in the West Bank, with some 14.000 students from across historical Palestine.