On March 12, 2018, Israeli authorities reportedly arrested Ola Marshoud, a student activist at An-Najah National University (An-Najah) in Nablus, in apparent retaliation for her nonviolent activism. On July 30, she was convicted and sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment.
Marshoud, a Saudi citizen, studies journalism, works as a freelance journalist, and is a student activist at An-Najah. On March 12, 2018, Israeli forces summoned her to the Hawara detention center and arrested her, in apparent connection with her organizing of student protests against Israeli authorities at An-Najah. The following week, on March 21, Israeli forces reportedly broke into Marshoud’s house in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, searched for her phone and interrogated members of her family. Marshoud was later transferred from the Hawara detention center to an interrogation center in Petah Tikva. On July 30, 2018, the Israeli Salem military court convicted and sentenced her to seven months in prison on undisclosed charges.
Marshoud’s arrest and prosecution appears to have occurred against a backdrop of increasing pressures by Israeli authorities on Palestinian student-activists and leaders. On March 7, days before Marshoud’s arrest, Israeli army force members detained at gunpoint Omar Kiswani, president of Student Council at Birzeit University. On the same day of Marshoud’s sentencing, on July 30, families in al-Khalil reported Israeli forces posting letters on the walls and doors of homes of female students and their families, which allegedly declared that female students’ involvement in activism would result in arrest.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about arbitrary imprisonment and prosecution of a student in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from arbitrary arrests and prosecutions of students in connection with such conduct, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.