Israel's Haifa University expels five Palestinian students over social media posts

Israel's Haifa University expels five Palestinian students over social media posts
Palestinian students at Haifa University in Israel say they were suspended from the institution after posting pro-Palestinian content to social media and messaging platforms.
2 min read
10 October, 2023
Israel's intense bombardment of Gaza since Hamas launched its attack has prompted pro-Palestine solidarity worldwide [Cole Burston/AFP via Getty]

Israel's Haifa University expelled five Palestinian students on Sunday over their social media posts on the Gaza war

Speaking to The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed about her experience, one of the students said she was expelled after sharing a video interview of Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani through messaging service WhatsApp's Story feature.

The interview, now decades old, centred on the Palestinian cause and was not directly related to the current escalation of violence in Gaza.

"Someone took a screenshot of my post and sent it to the university," the student said. "I haven't done anything wrong. I'm only expressing my opinion."

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Another expelled student said: "I was notified last evening about my removal and suspension from the university due to my expressed solidarity with Gaza. On Saturday, I posted a story on Instagram featuring a tank image. However, just hours later, I removed it upon hearing of potential monitoring and the risks associated with such expressions."

"It's becoming evident that the last remaining freedom of expression for Arab students is only permissible if it favours the Israeli perspective," the second student said.

Adalah, a legal organisation for Palestinian rights in Israel, released a statement Monday addressing the concerns of several students from Haifa University who had received notices of expulsion or suspension from the university's administration.

The centre, represented by attorney Adi Mansour, communicated with the university on behalf of the affected students. They emphasised that the dismissals are potentially unlawful, and that the students were not summoned or heard before such decisions were made.

Referring to the university's internal guidelines, Adalah said the students' rights cannot be violated without a process in which they can address allegations against them and defend their position. 

About 800 Palestinians and 900 Israelis have been killed since Saturday, when fighters from the Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise large-scale attack on Israeli territory. Israel has been bombarding Gaza since, killing mostly civilians. Hamas has continued to fire rockets into Israel.