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Student activists in Palestine recall 2015 'Jerusalem uprising'

Israeli Jews and Arabs march together in downtown Jerusalem on October 17, 2015, during a protest four Palestinians were shot dead in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on October 17 [GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Jews and Arabs march together in downtown Jerusalem on October 17, 2015, during a protest four Palestinians were shot dead in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on October 17 [GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images]

Zina Khaleel a 27-year-old Palestinian recalls the wave of violence that had swept in the city of Jerusalem in 2015, Anadolu Agency reported.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the sixth anniversary of the "Jerusalem uprising" which is being observed on Saturday, she said the unrest was triggered actually by the killing of Diaa Talahmeh, 21, by an Israeli soldier in the southwest governorate of Hebron.

He was a computer engineer student at Al-Quds University and a student activist associated with the Palestine Islamic Jihad Movement. Israeli army alleged that they killed Talahmeh in self-defense as he was lobbing a hand grenade in protest against assaults against Palestinians in Al-Aqsa Mosque at that time.

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By Sept. 25, 2015, Khaleel recollects the incident had escalated into a full-blown revolt, with clashes between Palestinian students and the army escalating around the main campus of Al-Quds University in Abu Dies locality, in eastern Jerusalem.

She said that many students from the university were killed or arrested during the uprising as the army raided the campus many times.

Khaleel, who was an engineering student with Talahmeh said the deceased was hardworking and energetic.

"Diaa was a hard-working, energetic student with charisma in his presence. We were not able to understand his absence," she said.

Since then, the student movement in the West Bank has faced serious challenges and suppressions against a backdrop of the political rivalry between Fatah and Hamas.

Many student activists were arrested by Israeli forces. Even Palestinian security agencies did not spare them. The student council elections were also frozen or delayed in most of the universities.

"The attack was very violent by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against the students, particularly those with Islamic leanings. The Islamic block was banned either by some universities administrations or PA," said Sari Orabi, a political analyst.

Since most students were involved in the "Jerusalem uprising", analysts say, it was a critical point for the students' movements, which got revitalized in Palestinian universities and became a backbone of national struggle.

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"We can consider "Jerusalem uprising" a critical point because it came after years of paralysis of the student movement national and political activity," said Sari Orabi, a political analyst.

He said the political division has weakened student movements in the West Bank.

Analysts believe that university students have always played a central role in the Palestinian struggle against occupation during the first and second intifada. This has made student movements target attacks and securitization of universities.

"The uprising has made us believe that Palestinian students can return to the street and lead the struggle," said Khalil, adding that attempts to remove students from politics have not worked.

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