Israeli occupation forces have been harassing Palestinian students outside a Hebron region university for the past six months, Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem reported this week.
In December 2017, students from the Palestine Technical University campus next to Al-‘Arrub camp north of Hebron held a protest against President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Beginning on campus, when the protesters reached the main entrance, “clashes ensued between them and Israeli soldiers who were there, blocking the gate”. Later, B’Tselem added, soldiers invaded the campus itself, using “stun grenades, teargas and rubber-coated metal bullets”.
Since then – a period of some six months – Israeli occupation forces have “patrolled daily by the main entrance, from early morning until classes are over”.
“In addition,” the NGO continued, “soldiers stationed at the entrance randomly inspect students’ identity cards, take photographs of them and search their bags, sometimes even confiscating their IDs or demanding that the students identify fellow students in photographs”.
With students reporting delays of up to an hour at the entrance to the campus, some students – including residents of the refugee camp opposite – have chosen “to take longer, roundabout routes to campus so as to avoid encounters with the soldiers”.
Furthermore, after a protest on Prisoners’ Day in April – when soldiers once again violently entered the campus – the army “shut down the campus for two days”.
“There is nothing routine about students having to get past soldiers in order to enter an academic campus,” B’Tselem stated.
Delaying the students and harassing them on their way to classes infringes upon their fundamental right to move freely, study and lead an ordinary social life.
“For students in most countries, these rights are a given, a matter of course,” B’Tselem continued, “yet for the hundreds of students at the Al-‘Arrub campus, even the most basic of rights are subject to the whims of the military.”
“This is yet another example of the daily, arbitrary abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank, and the military’s cynical use of its power,” the NGO concluded.