On October 5, 2019, Israeli soldiers reportedly fired tear gas at students from various universities participating in a peaceful demonstration near Ofar Prison.
The students had gathered on the campus of Birzeit University and proceeded to Ofar Prison, where they protested an alleged increase in arrests and administrative detentions of Palestinians by Israeli authorities. Reports indicate that the students were protesting peacefully when Israeli troops fired teargas toward them, dispersing the crowd.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violent force to restrict student expression — conduct that is expressly protected by 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. While state authorities have a responsibility to ensure security, they also have an obligation to ensure that their actions are proportionate and are not undertaken to restrict nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.