On March 26, 2019, in the predawn hours, a group of Israeli operatives disguised as Palestinians abducted three Birzeit University students in a direct violation of the sanctity of universities and a blatant attack on the right to education, guaranteed by all international laws and conventions.
In a statement, the university said the kidnappers entered the campus breaking the university’s main gate with a special machine, raided the room that contains automated teller machines close to the Students Council building, and arrested Hamza Abu Qare’, Tawfiq Abu Arqoub and Odai Nakhleh.
This is not the first violent intrusion by Israeli army forces. Last year, a group of undercover Israeli operatives, disguised as Palestinian college students, abducted the head of the student council from campus in broad daylight.
Birzeit University continues to be at the mercy of a ruthless occupier. The intentional targeting of students violates all international laws and norms that call for academic freedom and the freedom of speech and expression. Israel’s systematic abuse of power continues to unjustly punish those who seek their right to education.
For decades, Israel has operated a broad regime of internal restrictions to the detriment of Palestinian higher education and other vital Palestinian economic, social welfare, and development processes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As its arbitrary, indiscriminate, politically inspired actions disruptively impact Palestinian civil life, Israel’s broadly restrictive regime clearly contravenes and breaches international law.
Therefore, the university called to mind the international recognition of academic freedoms that guarantee the sanctity and independence of universities. Universities are built on integrity, sacrosanctity, and purposefulness to produce responsible and ethical minds that are able to contribute positively to their societies and to the changing world.
Birzeit University reaffirmed that the Israeli occupation’s aggression will not discourage its staff and administration from fulfilling their role of providing enlightened education, graduating unique students who will form the basis of an independent Palestinian state. The university further insisted that quality education remains a powerful and unrelenting weapon to be used in face of the Israeli occupation. This incident will not prevent Birzeit University from recruiting the finest Palestinian academics that have invaluable experience to share with all Palestinian students.