Israeli forces raid Birzeit WB campus during student strike
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.
Students Ismail Barghouti, Walid Harazneh, Qassam Nakhleh, Muhammad al-Khatib and Abdel Hafez al-Sharbati, who were arrested by Apartheid Militant “Special forces” in front of Birzeit University- ShehabNews 🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/rvTMlTMpKB— Suribelle (@Suribelle1) January 10, 2022
“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.
I've lived through similar horror scenes while studying at Birzeit during the second Intifada, but to shoot a student and kidnap him from campus in an unmarked van is a new upgrade in Israel's unchecked violence #Birzeit https://t.co/ArOHGYjtZg— Marwa Fatafta مروة فطافطة (@marwasf) January 10, 2022
“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".
Israeli forces carried out a violent raid on Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, using live fire, and arresting a number of students. pic.twitter.com/SFgXixwSbA— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) January 10, 2022
However, Abu Ghosh insists that “the Palestinian Authority could solve half of the problem if it gave more importance to education in its budget”.
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”.
Hundreds of students take part in a protest at Birzeit University in the center of the occupied West Bank in protest of raiding the university campus by Israeli special forces and detaining five students, according to local sources.#FreePalestine pic.twitter.com/03Tz0kIuCF— Wafa News Agency - English (@WAFANewsEnglish) January 11, 2022
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.