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IDF Raids Birzeit University, Again.

By Amelia Casey-Rerhaye, BA Arabic

On the night of the 24th of September, Birzeit University posted a video of between ten and twenty Israeli Defence Force (IDF) vehicles leaving their campus. The video was taken after the IDF raided the Birzeit student council building, arresting eight students, including the current council president, Abdul Majeed Hassan. 

Later that day the University posted pictures to their Instagram account of the disruption caused to the council quarters, where chairs can be seen upturned and paper strewn across the room. A statement was posted alongside the images in which the university condemns the IDF for gross violations of customs and documents that criminalize the attack on academic facilities. The statement also describes how the university security was forcibly overpowered, and their mobile devices confiscated, going on to list the students who were detained: Abdul Majeed Hassan, Amr Khalil, Abdullah Muhammad, Ahmed Awaidat, Yahya Farah, Mahmoud Nakhla, Hassan Alwan, Abdullah Abu Qiyas. 

IDF presence on the university campus is not an uncommon occurrence. According to the Right 2 Education Campaign, 28 IDF raids have taken place over the past 20 years. Only once before has a president been apprehended, in March of 2018 during the first daylight raid, in which IDF forces entered the campus disguised as students. The president was imprisoned for four years for ‘administrative charges.’ 12 other students were injured during this raid. Further violence was inflicted in a more recent raid in January of this year, in which five students were arrested, and one shot. 

In a protest that took place on the 25th of September, students gathered to denounce the arrests of their classmates and what is viewed as an attack on their right to education. A source attending the university who was present during the protest recounted the emotional weight of the situation to me: ‘You could feel the anger; for them, it’s their classmates, it’s their colleagues, it’s their friends’. The source wished to remain anonymous, cautious of what it would cost them to speak openly on the subject. Teachers and students alike were present to show their support. However, the source also mentions that the rest of campus and university life carried on as normal around the rally; ‘Oddly enough it just felt like part of life, there were a lot of students not protesting and just going to classes and passing by.’ The normalcy unsettled her. 

“According to the Right 2 Education campaign, over 2,000 students have been arrested since 1983. 80 remain in jail today.”

According to the Right 2 Education campaign, over 2,000 students have been arrested since 1983. 80 remain in jail today. The fate of the eight arrested students from this raid is, as of yet, still unknown. Since the recent turmoil between Israel and Palestine, the Birzeit University campus has been shut, and our source is unable to get further information. 

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