Israeli armed forces arrest five students one week into the new academic year at Birzeit University

Zahran Zahran, Ja’far Kayed, Qassam Dar Abed, Nadim Zahra, and Iyad Abu Shamleh should be celebrating the start of the new academic year with their friends and classmates at Birzeit University, which marks a return to in-person teaching and learning after more than a year and a half of virtual lectures and online discussions. Instead, these students are now enduring detention under brutal, harsh conditions in Israeli prisons and interrogation centers.

The students, enrolled in undergraduate programs in the Faculties of Law and Public Administration and in Business and Economics, were arrested just one week into the new academic year, thus marking a new salvo by the Israeli settler colonial occupation in its ongoing campaign to cripple the foundations of higher education in Palestine. More than 70 Birzeit University students are currently detained in Israeli military prisons — some without charge — where they are assaulted, tortured, and deprived of the most basic human rights.

The arrest of the six students is only the latest in a series of escalating attacks by the Israeli occupation against students, faculty, and staff members at Birzeit University and other Palestinian educational institutions. In the last year alone, Israeli forces arrested 58 students from Birzeit University, including six females, after officially declaring the Democratic Progressive Student Pole (DPSP), the leftist bloc at Birzeit University, an “unlawful association.” Israeli forces have also carried out mass arrests of students, detaining 30 undergraduates after they visited the family of Palestinian prisoner Montaser Shalabi, whose home was demolished by the Israeli authorities in early July. Student Fadi Washaha, who was peacefully demonstrating against the Israeli occupation's war on Gaza and the ongoing expulsion of Palestinians from Jerusalem, was murdered in cold blood.

The arrest and harassment of members of Birzeit University's students and faculty are flagrant violations of international law, conventions, and norms particularly those rules protecting the right to education. The Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University calls on all local and international academic and human rights organizations to preserve the sanctity of education in Palestine and secure the immediate release of all students and all prisoners held in Israeli jails and detention centers. We also call upon academic institutions worldwide to boycott all Israeli universities complicit in the ongoing colonization of Palestinian lands and people