Israeli forces raid university campus in the West Bank
Israeli occupation forces raided the campus of Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank at dawn on Tuesday.
Israeli soldiers broke into campus at around 4 a.m. after beating the guards, and forced their way into the faculties of science, engineering, pharmacology and postgraduate studies, sources at the university told The New Arab.
The soldiers searched the faculties’ buildings and other campus facilities for two hours, damaging some of the contents inside, according to the sources.
We express our grave concern over and denunciation of the raid on Birzeit University main campus by Israeli occupation forces in the early morning. These attacks are direct violations of international laws that forbid any violation against the #right_of_education @Right2Edu pic.twitter.com/gwGpw2Fj1b— Birzeit University (@BirzeitU) December 14, 2021
Dr. Ghassan Al-Khatib, deputy to the university president, described the raid as "a dangerous escalation against education in Palestine".
"The raid directly threatens academic freedom and university life, and comes as a continuation of the Israeli attack against Palestinian society in general," he told The New Arab.
Birzeit University is one the oldest and largest Palestinian universities in the West Bank, with around 14,500 registered students in 2020, according to university records.
The university resumed in-person classes in September, after two years of holding classes online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It is already a hard time for us as a university to hold regular classes after such a long time of interruption," al-Khatib said.
"These kinds of attacks further undermine the stability of our education process, and they are part of a series of obstacles that the occupation imposes on our work, like arresting students and academics, and banning teachers and students from abroad from entering the country."
A spokesperson for the student-led Right to Education campaign told The New Arab that raids of the campus were nothing new.
"In 2018, undercover Israeli soldiers broke into the campus and kidnapped the president of the student council, Omar Kiswani. Also, in 2017 and in 2014, the occupation forces raided the campus at night and confiscated some material from the student council," said the spokesperson, who asked not to be named.
About 70 students from Birzeit University are currently under Israeli arrest, according to the spokesperson.
"This constant harassment imposes an atmosphere of insecurity in the campus, which affects daily life at the university, including classes."