Israel continues crackdown on Palestinian Birzeit students

Israel continues crackdown on Palestinian Birzeit students
3 min read
West Bank
27 September, 2023
Israeli forces arrested on Tuesday the tenth Palestinian university student on Sunday. As Israel's crackdown on university students continues, student groups and academics accuse Israel of 'criminalising student activism'.
According to student groups, some 80 Birzeit students are currently detained by Israeli forces [Getty]

A Palestinian student movement has told The New Arab that Israel is "trying to criminalise student activism", after a wave of arrests of students at Birzeit University.

Israeli forces raided the Birzeit University campus, in northern Ramallah, on Sunday, arresting eight students with two more detained on Monday and Tuesday.

The student-led 'Right To Education Campaign' said Israeli forces are currently holding 80 students from Birzeit University alone.

"The occupation's arrests of students is a daily practice," Sondos Hammad, coordinator of the Right to Education Campaign, told The New Arab.

"Everyday we receive news of some students arrested from their homes, their dorms, or at some checkpoint. We at the campaign try to provide legal aid to all of them."

She said the experiences behind bars have a lasting impact on students and interrupt their academic lives.

"The occupation tries to intimidate students away from activism, by sending a message that any kind of student activism is punishable with arrest and prison," she said.

Among the eight students arrested by Israeli forces during their raid on Sunday is Abdel Majid Hassan, president of the students' council for the 2023-2024 term.

"This is the fourth time that Abdel Majid is arrested, and now he has received a 72-hour detention order, which is usually what the occupation gives students before an administrative detention order of several months," Basel Barghouthi, a member of Birzeit students' council, told TNA.

"The arrest will seriously affect Abdel Majid's academic situation, as he is most probably going to miss the semester yet again."

On Monday, students and teachers marched in Birzeit University's campus, as classes were interrupted to protest the continuous arrest of students by Israeli forces.

"Abdel Majid has already been forced to prolong his studies for almost eight years, which is double his degree programme, because of repeated arrests, and this is the case for many students," Barghouthi said.

"Sometimes, we feel like we are detainees, waiting our turn to be students, rather than the other way around."

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"The occupation's raids in university campuses is a violation of international law, and the occupation forces' so-called security pretexts are of no value whatsoever," Dr. Yasser Amouri, deputy president for communications of Birzeit University, told Palestinian media on Monday.

"We send a message to the occupation that Birzeit University will not be broken and it will continue to play its academic and patriotic role, and this message is expressed by the presence of all the university's components at this march."

Since the start of 2023, Israeli forces have arrested more than 3,600 Palestinians, according to human rights groups, many held in administrative detention.

Currently, Israel detains some 5,000 Palestinians, including 1,200 administrative detainees held without charges.