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Israel obliterates Gaza's last university amid boycott calls

Israel obliterates Gaza's last university amid calls for an academic boycott
3 min read
18 January, 2024
Gaza's last standing university was blown up by Israel's army on Wednesday, in the latest hit to the Palestinian enclave's educational sector.
Israel's vicious war on Gaza has turned much of the Palestinian enclave into rubble [Getty]

The Gaza Strip’s last standing university was obliterated by the Israeli army on Wednesday as soldiers detonated hundreds of landmines strapped to the building.

Al-Israa University, which was overran by Israeli forces during their ground assault in Gaza and used as a base for their operations, was blown up by soldiers.

Footage shared on social media showed the moment the educational institute – which had already suffered some structural damage – was completely destroyed.

"The [Israeli] army occupied and used it as a military base for its operations and a centre for snatching isolated civilians... and temporarily detained them for interrogations," Al-Israa University wrote on its Facebook page.

The Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank condemned the "brutal assault".

"Birzeit University reaffirms the fact that this crime is part of the Israeli occupation's onslaught against the Palestinians. It's all a part of the Israeli occupation's goal to make Gaza uninhabitable; a continuation of the genocide being carried out in Gaza Strip," the university wrote on its X account.

It added that the attack also destroyed a museum established by the Al-Israa University which housed more than 3,000 rare artifacts, and which was looted by Israeli forces.

Academics and social media users from around the world have called for a full academic boycott of Israel, accusing it of deliberately and directly targeting educational institutions in Gaza, as well as cultural centres.

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Gaza was home to seven universities, all of which have either been destroyed or severely damaged.

The Israeli government has repeatedly accused Hamas of using civilian infrastructure including hospitals as command centres, something the Palestinian group has outright denied and later disproven, as was the case of Al-Shifa hospital.

There have been multiple videos of Israeli soldiers cheering and celebrating to destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, such as government buildings or homes.

The attack on Al-Israa University could count as evidence of war crimes in the enclave since the start of the war on 7 October.

Hearings on a genocide case brought by South Africa against Israel commenced this month, and many countries have backed this case.

Close to 24,500 people – the vast majority of civilians – have been killed by Israel’s unprecedented bombardment of the Gaza Strip since 7 October.

This came the day Hamas launched a surprise attack in southern Israel - killing an estimated 1,100 people - which it says was in response to Israel's decades-long blockade and aggression against Palestinians.

Israel’s air and ground offensive has destroyed much of Gaza, and a humanitarian crisis is quickly spiralling into what UN chief Antonio Guterres has called a "catastrophe".