Since October 2015, the recent escalation in violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has led to the killing of 92 Palestinians and the injury of thousands of others by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) in the OPT and within the Green Line. As Israeli violations continue to infringe upon Palestinian rights and freedoms throughout the OPT, Palestinian students and universities have also been severely affected.
Most notably, the Al-Quds University in Abu Dis and the Palestine Technical University - Kadoorie in Tulkarem have been subjected to the IOF's raids, and use of tear gas and ammunition over the past two months. These acts have damaged the campuses, put students' lives at risk, and hindered their education.
The Palestine Technical University - Kadoorie is a public university, where approximately 700,000 students study and 370,000 individuals are employed, has long struggled with the Israeli Occupying authorities. At least 200 dunums of the University's land were appropriated by the Annexation Wall. The University is also surrounded by the Geshuri chemical factories from the south, and a permanent Israeli checkpoint to the west. Approximately 23 dunums of the University's land were confiscated by the IOF, and are used as a military training area, consequently Israeli soldiers are routinely present there. According to Al-Haq investigations, the University's land is governmental and within "Area A" of the Oslo Accords, i.e. should be under full Palestinian control.
Since October 2015, IOF attacks against the University have escalated. Confrontations between students and the IOF are recurring. For example on 7 and 8 October, confrontations erupted between students of the University and the IOF following a demonstration organised by the students protesting Israel's human rights violations and the settlement enterprise. The IOF responded by shooting live and rubber bullets, and tear gas and sound canisters at the students. Tens of students were injured by bullets and hundreds by tear gas.
On 11 October, confrontations also erupted and tens of students and staff members suffered from tear gas inhalation. As a result, the University was closed until 14 October to ensure the safety of its staff and employees. On 18 October, confrontations erupted again for approximately four hours. The IOF raided the University campus and fired tear gas within the campus and into buildings.
On 19 October, 10 – 12 soldiers from the IOF were in the military training area as students were approximately 65 metres away on campus. Several soldiers pointed their guns at the students seemingly ready to fire at them, and provoked the students. Some of the students threw stones and fireworks at the soldiers, to which they retaliated by firing large quantities of tear gas at them. The students evacuated the premises, but the same group of soldiers approached the library building, fired rubber bullets and continued to shoot tear gas in the students' direction. By 12:00 pm, the University was forced to suspend classes; confrontations continued on campus until approximately 3:00 pm. In addition, on 24 November, confrontations erupted between students and the IOF on campus which resulted in the injury of six students by live ammunition in the lower parts of their bodies.
Furthermore and according to a summary statistical report issued by the Al-Quds Human Rights Clinic on 10 November 2015, the Al-Quds University suffered direct attacks by the IOF during October 2015. At least 175 people were injured by rubber bullets, 513 suffered from tear gas inhalation and one person was injured by live ammunition. In addition, the IOF broke doors, gates and windows on Campus, causing financial damages.
The IOF's attacks against universities in the OPT hinder students' access and right to education which is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In addition, the IOF's raids on the University infringes upon and restricts students' right to peaceful assembly as guaranteed in Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Alongside international human rights law, Israel, as an Occupying Power, is bound by the provisions of international humanitarian law to ensure protection and functioning of educational institutions. As such, Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that protected persons “shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof.” Furthermore, the destruction of property belonging to the State or others, as in the case of Kadoorie University and Al-Quds University, is prohibited when there is no absolute military necessity, as affirmed by Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
For further information on the attacks against the Palestine Technical University - Kadoorie, please see the following video produced by Al-Haq in November 2015: