Two Birzeit University Students Arrested by Undercover Israeli Special Forces

Two Birzeit University students were arrested by undercover Israeli Special Forces today. Murad Feqeh, 21 and Yousef Abu Qammar, 25 were both arrested early this afternoon while travelling to the University.

The bus which was carrying the students , was travelling North along the Ramallah/Birzeit Road and was stopped at the "Haifa" gas station outside of Ramallah, at which point undercover Israeli officers ordered all of the female passengers off-board. Two undercover Israeli vehicles then sandwiched the bus, which was forced to proceed to the bypass road leading to the Beit El Settlement, about a kilometer and a half from the petrol station. At the bypass road--a site where Israeli soldiers often place checkpoints--the six men were ordered off the bus, and Feqeh and Abu Qammar were taken away by the security agents. 

The bus driver was subsequently ordered to drive to Ramallah, a punitive move which prevented the remaining students from gaining access to the University.

The arrest of the two students brings to ten the number of students arrested in the last 9 days. The current number of Birzeit students in detention is fifty-five, seventeen of which were arrested in the period since the beginning of the year. Students have been detained on the basis of their support of various student political factions, including past and present members of the student council, as well as a previous student council president.

In an institution which prides itself on democratic values and freedom of expression, the continued harassment and arrest of these individuals places a heavy toll on the university community as a whole. The Birzeit Student Council President, Iyad Habib Mohammad, has been held in detention by the Israeli military authorities since 26 January 1999.

Many of the arrested Birzeit students are detained without charge, and frequently tortured (the use of coercive methods internationally defined as torture, such as violent shaking have been upheld by the Israeli High Court as legitimate means of interrogation).

We ask all those opposed to this unequivocal harassment campaign against Birzeit University students to send letters of appeal to the below addresses. Copies should also be sent to the Human Rights Action Project.

Mr Binyamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister
E-mail: rohm@pmo.gov.il

Mr Tzahi Hanegbi
Minister of Justice
E-mail: sar@justice.gov.il

Mr Avigdor Kahalani
Minister of Internal Security
E-mail: sar@mops.gov.il