On August 2, 2014, an Israeli missile reportedly struck an administrative building on the campus of the Islamic University in Gaza, as part of the ongoing military conflict in the territory. No injuries were reported, but the missile reportedly inflicted major damage, leaving university facilities in ruins. Israeli officials have claimed that they targeted the university facilities because they were being used for military purposes by Hamas. University officials have denied these claims.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the alleged military use and targeting of university facilities in armed conflict. Parties must refrain from using higher education facilities for military purposes during active conflict. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets; where a party suspects that a civilian facility — such as a university building — is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.