Hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed the campus of the Al-Quds Open University in Abu Dis, north of Ramallah, early Friday, January 29, and confiscated equipment and documents belonging to its student union, staff members told Palestinian news agency Ma’an. Hassan Dweik, the university’s deputy head, said that up to 300 soldiers stormed the campus, holding six security guards in a room and preventing them from leaving for two and a half hours.
Dweik said the soldiers raided the university’s Islamic Studies department, as well as its student union offices after smashing their way through their doors. He said the soldiers confiscated at least one computer as well as boxes filled with students’ documents and that the soldiers fired stun grenades during the raid, and photographed and took measurements of a number of buildings inside the university campus. He condemned the raid as a dangerous violation against education, and called on international human rights and education rights groups to decry the army’s actions.
Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October last year, the campus of Al-Quds University in Abu Dis has found itself a focal point of violent clashes between Palestinian students and Israeli soldiers. A number of Palestinians who allegedly carried out stabbing attacks on Israelis were students there. These include 19-year-old law student Muhannad Shafiq Halabi, who was shot dead in early October after he stabbed to death two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City – an act that served to trigger much of the subsequent popular unrest. Several days before the attack, Israeli media reported that Halabi posted a photograph on Facebook of Diya Talahmeh, another Palestinian studying at Al-Quds University who died in unclear circumstances during an encounter with Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Khursa in September.
Israeli forces have regularly stormed university campuses across the occupied Palestinian territory in recent months. Earlier this month, Birzeit University in Ramallah condemned an Israeli army raid into its campus, during which Israeli forces confiscated and damaged university equipment. “Birzeit University condemns this attack and the direct violation of the sanctity of the university campus,” a university spokesperson said. “This is a belligerent military attack on the university and our right to education and all the principles involved in the freedom of education.”