University staff expand visits to detained students' families as Israeli occupation intensifies attack on education

As the Israeli occupation continues its campaign against Birzeit University's community, teams of staff members continue to check up on detained students and their families, providing them with the needed support and legal aid and assistance. Since September 2021, the Deanship of Student Affairs’ team has visited the families of detained students.

The Israeli occupation has significantly escalated its attacks against Birzeit University's students, faculty, and staff members as of late, harassing, detaining, and killing members of the university’s community without regard for the most basic of human rights. In the last year alone, the Israeli occupying forces arrested 58 students, including six females, of whom five were released.

The goal of the visits to the homes of detained students, said Acting Dean of Student Affairs Anan Atteereh, is to learn about their needs and understand their conditions under detention and after their release. “We are aware that the educational process is one of mental and physical growth. When Palestinian youth are deprived of this process, when they experience detention and are placed in a violent, oftentimes extremely isolated environment inside prisons, they are not only robbed of this chance to grow and prosper, but they also experience difficulties that will affect them for a lifetime,” she explained.

With more than 70 students inside the Israeli occupation’s prisons, the team organized their visits by each student’s place of residence, such as Ramallah, Al Bireh, Birzeit, Hebron and Bethlehem. In each visit, Atteereh reaffirmed Birzeit University’s commitment to its students and stressed the fact that the university will work with local and international supporters to secure the release of members of Birzeit University’s community held in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

Atteereh expressed the university’s deep concern over the continuous arrests of its students, describing it as a flagrant violation of international laws and conventions, especially those protecting the right to education. “These detentions are a means to silence our students. They are not only deprived of their right to education, but they are also not allowed to be with their families and loved ones; they can’t exercise their rights and freedoms of expression and assembly; and they are even prevented from engaging in social and academic activities inside campus,” she said.

In the visits, the university team, comprising Anan Atteereh, Gadah Alomare, Samia Hawamda, Fadi Azzam, and Eyad Jadallah, discussed the situation of the students still held in Israeli prisons  and explored with those released their the challenges of re-adapting to normal life inside and outside the university. 

The visits will continue in the coming weeks, Atteereh added, as the university’s community comes together to support the detained students and their families.