SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 04, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Birzeit University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 4, 2020, the Israeli authorities reportedly detained Yahya Sadiq al-Qarout, a Birzeit University student and the secretary of the planning committee for the university’s student council.

Few details are available regarding the detention of al-Qarout, a third-year computer science student, who reportedly has no prior arrest history. Available sources indicate that soldiers raided the family home of al-Qarout, in Tulkarem, at roughly 4:00 AM. The soldiers then searched al-Qarout’s home before taking him into custody.

According to the Palestinian prisoner solidarity network, Samidoun, Al-Qarout was expected to appear in military court on June 7. As of this report, there is no public information regarding his status, including whether he remains in Israeli custody, or the evidentiary basis for his detention.

Since the summer of 2019, Palestinian sources have reported an apparent increase in detentions of university students, with students from Birzeit University, in the West Bank, being particularly targeted. Over the years, the Israeli Defense Forces have frequently carried out raids and detentions targeting members of Palestinian student organizations and student councils, both of which often serve as venues for young Palestinians to voice concerns and opinions regarding a range of topics, including politics.

Sources covering al-Qarout’s detention indicated that a number of students were detained in similar raids around the same time.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparently arbitrary detention of a student by state military authorities. Arbitrary arrests and imprisonments without particularized and reasonable suspicion may violate recognized human rights standards and international humanitarian law. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.