Detailed information about the attacks of the Israeli occupation authorities on Birzeit University and on its faculties and students.
Lectures Despite Closures
During the academic year 1981/1982, occupation authorities closed the university for seven months, hindering the academic process. Since its re-opening on April 19, 1982, the Israeli authorities hindered the right to education by breaking into students’ dormitories and attacking faculty members, placing barriers and checkpoints on the roads to the university, disrupting the academic schedules, and detaining students.
Occupation authorities again closed the university starting from January 4, 1982 for a period of two months, reopening it on April 19, 1982. The reason for its closure was that the university participated in a series of strikes that have taken place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in protest of the Civil Administration.
The university was closed on February 16, 1982 when the Israeli officer in charge of university education visited Birzeit University despite the rejection of university officials. He supported Israeli Resolution No. 854, which gave the Israeli Civil Administration the right to control higher education institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As a result of this step, the university canceled the year’s first semester.
On July 8, 1982, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the closure of the university for three months after a two-day strike in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
In 1983, Israel expelled 43 academics from universities in the West Bank because they refused to sign a document drafted against the Palestine Liberation Organization.
On March 2, 1984, Israeli occupation forces closed the old campus for three months, exempting the new campus to relieve local and international media pressure. The staff and students set up tents in the backyards of the new campus to maintain the academic life. This incident was reported in international media.
On November 21, 1984, occupation authorities closed the university for a month, that same day killing Gazan student Sharaf Tibi, the first Birzeit student killed by occupation forces. Clashes ensued between the university students and Israeli soldiers that coincided with the seventeenth session of the Palestinian National Council. Based on the pictures, maps and affidavits gathered by the Law Society for Human Rights in Ramallah, a report was issued by the Birzeit University Public Relations Office describing how occupation forces blocked the transfer of injured students, hindering the arrival of ambulances, and deploying snipers to shoot the students.
Gabi Baramki, who was Vice President at that time, said, “The foundations of logic, norms and humanitarian conventions dictate that protection should be provided to all members of the community, i.e. the injured and sick, but what happened on November 21, 1984 at Birzeit University was just the opposite." He described how Israeli soldiers blocked the ambulance carrying wounded student Ashraf Khalil Tibi, who passed away, bleeding for 25 minutes at the Jaffna checkpoint.
On March 8, 1985, occupation authorities closed the university for two months, which led to the holding of a press conference in Jerusalem on March 12, 1985, attended by representatives of local and international news agencies, in which the university vice president detailed Israeli violations against university students and staff. Baramki indicated that the goal of this Israeli military campaign is to distort the university’s reputation, and destroy its ability to perform its academic duties and mission.
The tenth closure had a special flavor. The military incursion took place, not because of demonstrations or campaigns as in the previous nine closures but rather in response to the Book Fair that was held at the university.
In 1987, the Israeli occupation authorities closed the university three times for a total of over four months.
On January 8, 1988, Birzeit University was closed during a wave of closures of schools and educational institutions, and the closure continued for 51 months until April 29, 1992. During this long closure, the university continued teaching in secret by creating study groups outside the university.
During the university closure on July 31, 1991, the Israeli occupation forces stormed into Alhambra Palace in Ramallah, one location where off-site classes were held, and seized students IDs while forcing them to leave, despite teachers’ objections.
Gazan students were separated from the West Bank students and the university administration was blamed for hosting Gazan students. Israeli occupation forces also broke into the female students’ dormitories in Birzeit town and arrested a number of them.