On 3rd July 2023, Israeli military forces launched a devastating assault on Jenin Refugee Camp, killing at least 12 Palestinians and injuring 140 others. In addition to the attack on Jenin, described by the UN as the ‘fiercest in over 20 years’, in recent weeks Israeli military violence escalated in the West Bank, including in Jerusalem and Nablus too. These measures have been compounded by increasing restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement and high numbers of arbitrary arrests. Fobzu spoke with the Right to Education campaign, to shed light on the impact of these events on Birzeit University, its staff and students.
The two-day assault against Jenin refugee camp that began on July 3rd and the ongoing escalation in Israeli military and settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank this summer have had a serious impact on Palestinian students and academics. Israel’s military attack on Jenin refugee camp damaged water and electricity supplies, injured at least 140 civilians and left at least 12 dead. The ground and aerial assault forced thousands to fleetheir homes and destroyed residential buildings, schools and hospitals. In Nablus, Israeli security services killed two men during a military raid on 7 July and on the 11 July , Israeli police forcibly displaced the Sub Laban family from their home in Old City, Jerusalem. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since January 2023, with the highest number of Palestinians deaths taking place in Jenin (64) and Nablus (46).
Accompanying these escalations in military violence, Israeli authorities have imposed further restrictions of movement across the West Bank. Like students attending other universities in the West Bank, students at Birzeit have been unable to get to campus, class timetables have been disrupted and exams have been postponed, with some even cancelled as a result of these events. Students have reported being under immense pressure to complete their exams within a very limited window of time. Some have been forced to take multiple exams in one day as exam timetables are condensed in order to make up for lost time. Students have also had graduation ceremonies delayed and one Fobzu scholarship recipient reported that he will have to go from his final exam straight into his graduation ceremony. These latest challenges come at the end of a challenging academic year at Birzeit.
Students at Birzeit routinely face harassment, arrest and detention at Israeli checkpoints, in breach of their individual liberties as well as the international legal protections afforded to Palestinians living under occupation. Moreover, this systematic policy constitutes an attack on the right to education for Palestinians. The University and Right to Education campaign try to assist students with practical and legal support in these circumstances, however, they have reported recent rises in the number of such incidents and assistance remains stretched.