Between June 19-22, 2014, Israeli military forces conducted raids of multiple West Bank universities. On the morning of Thursday, June 19, Israeli troops reportedly entered the campus of Birzeit University near Ramallah, raiding the Islamic student union and confiscating flags, posters and other materials used by a student group during recent student council elections. According to a statement by Birzeit University, Israeli troops “convert[ed] its academic facilities to military barracks,” “confiscate[ed] student property,” “wip[ed] out the [university’s] eastern and western gates, search[ed] parts of the Faculty of Science building and attempt[ed] to force open administrative offices.” The following morning, according to Palestinian sources including Ma’an News Agency, Israeli troops entered the campus of the Arab American University in Jenin, raiding and confiscating files from the student union and the headquarters of the Dean of Student Affairs. On June 22, Palestinian sources reported that troops destroyed the main gates of Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, entering the campus and confiscating computers from several university offices. Additionally, troops reportedly raided Al Quds University in East Jerusalem on June 22, entering the building of the law faculty and confiscating computers, Islamic flags and banners.
The campus intrusions were reportedly part of a search for three Israeli teens kidnapped on June 12, 2014. The youths were found murdered near Hebron, in the West Bank, on June 30, sparking further violence and counter-violence, including the abduction and killing of a Palestinian youth and violent incidents involving civilians and Israeli and Palestinian security forces.
Scholars at Risk condemns the abductions, killings and other acts of violence committed. Nevertheless, Scholars at Risk is concerned about allegations of forced entry and occupation of university campuses by state military forces, as well as seizures of documents, computers and other materials. Scholars at Risk recognizes that states have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to secure the safety of individuals at risk, including victims of kidnappings. However such measures must comply with recognized human rights standards. Entry into or control of higher education facilities must be based on particularized and reasonable suspicion, communicated to higher education leaders and stakeholders as early and fully as circumstances may reasonably permit. Arbitrary entry into or control of higher education facilities without such reasonable and particularized information, communicated properly, may violate recognized human rights standards and can undermine university autonomy and academic freedom, and impair the ability of higher education institutions to serve their educational, social and public functions, including imparting the skills and knowledge necessary for respectful discourse, understanding and peace-building.