Joint Friends of Birzeit University and student union officers' statement in support of the Right to Education for Palestinians

Following the storming of the university and abduction of the President of the Student Council,

Birzeit University, the Right to Education in Palestine and Palestinian students have called for the support of students and academic communities worldwide to stand up in defence of their right to education.

Please join us in showing your solidarity at this critical moment.

On Wednesday 7th March in the mid-afternoon, armed IDF units in civilian clothing forced their way onto Birzeit University campus. One unit detained university security guards, confiscated their weapons and began firing on students and university staff. As documented by video footage, undercover IDF operatives posing as student journalists launched an assault on the President of the Student Council, Omar Kiswani, outside the Council buildings. He was violently attacked before being abducted from the university.

Birzeit and other Palestinian universities are a pillar of Palestinian educational, cultural and civic life, raising a new generation to contribute to Palestine’s future. The storming of Birzeit University and abduction of the Student Council President is the most recent example Israel’s long term and systematic assault on the Palestinian right to education, which targets the learning, development and hope of a whole generation.

Palestinian schools and universities have been subjected to targeted military offensives, demolition and raids. Students and teachers face arrest, harassment and restrictions on movement. And today, Palestinian higher education suffers international isolation and fragmentation as a result of the illegal blockade of Gaza, the separation Wall and the occupation’s system of division and control.

The Right to Education campaign at Birzeit reports a rise in arrests of students since the beginning of 2018 and today over 60 Birzeit students are detained in Israeli jails. For those of us who are student representatives and members of student unions in the UK, we are deeply disturbed by Israel’s criminalization of student associations and the practice of harassing and detaining student council members and leaders – undermining key institutions of Palestinian democracy and civic life.

The protection of Palestinian institutions of learning under occupation, and those who work and study in them is guaranteed in international humanitarian and human rights law.

Today Palestinian academic freedom and the right to education is violated by an occupation in its sixth decade that acts with impunity.

We, Friends of Birzeit University and student union officers in the UK, believe that we have a duty to take a stand against injustice and oppression. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian students denied their right to education and support their demands to live and study in an environment free from the violent practices of Israel’s occupation.

We will continue to work to demonstrate to Palestinian students that they are not alone in the struggle for their rights and call for the education community and students in the UK to join us. In addition, we call on the UK government to end its complicit silence on Israel’s violations of the Palestinian right to education and hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights.

Fobzu is a UK charitable organisation supporting the right to education for Palestinians since 1978.

To support us, please sign the petition here.