On Thursday, 9 December, Israeli occupation forces seized eight Palestinian students at An-Najah National University after raiding their homes in pre-dawn invasions. Following the arrests, occupation forces then sent threatening text messages to fellow students at the university, warning them that they too would be arrested if they participated in the activities of the Islamic Bloc or other student blocs at the university.
The students seized by the Israeli occupation forces were: Hamza Tabanja, Hassan Tuffaha, Omar Shaksheer, Ayoub Dwaikat, Ibrahim Dwaikat, Ibrahim Abed, Anas Shtayyeh and Ibrahim Shalhoub. Several of the detained students had previously been jailed by the Israeli occupation and accused of participating in the activities of the Islamic Bloc.
Hundreds of Palestinian students are routinely detained by the Israeli occupation, especially those who are part of student organizations involved with campus political life. At Bir Zeit University alone, approximately 74 students were detained by occupation soldiers during the 2019-2020 academic year. They are among nearly 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners jailed by Israel. The work of student organizing, from holding book fairs to organizing events and participating in student elections, is criminalized by the Israeli occupation. Still more students are detained for joining demonstrations or posting on their social media profiles.
Palestinian students have been seized by Israeli occupation forces and abducted for their participation in the student movement in their homes, at their workplaces and on their campuses.
Once arrested, Palestinian students are routinely subjected to torture under interrogation — subjected to stress positions and stretched out over chairs, suspended from walls and forced to stand on tiptoe, deprived of sleep, cuffed and pressured on injured limbs, and beaten.
One of the most common charges is “membership in a prohibited organization,” typically referring to the student blocs. These represent the full spectrum of Palestinian politics. They organize lectures, book fairs, rallies and other campus events and participate in student elections. The charge sheets often refer to these standard activities of campus life, which are widely interpreted as a barometer for broader Palestinian political opinion.
These are not isolated cases, but a direct and collective violation of Palestinian students’ right to education, as affirmed in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The targeted repression of students is just one facet of Israel’s crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people.
The #FreePalestinianStudents campaign mobilizes over 300 organizations around the world to defend Palestinian students from political imprisonment and demand their freedom.
We join together to call for action and support for Palestinian students behind bars, including:
- Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, including Israeli academic institutions, which are fully complicit in the systematic deprivation of Palestinian rights.
- Ending all military and economic aid, military transactions, joint projects and direct funding to the Israeli occupation regime by governments around the world.
- Challenging “normalization” programs that aim to legitimize Israeli occupation — this is an attempt to legitimize the criminalization and targeting of Palestinian students.
- Organizing to build direct links of solidarity with Palestinian students and the Palestinian student movement, to ensure that they will not be isolated from their global community of support despite all attempts by the Israeli occupation.