On June 8, 2022, Palestinian Authority security forces used violent force against students affiliated with the Hamas-affiliated Islamic bloc, who were gathered at An-Najah National University. 10 students and employees were reportedly dismissed in the wake of the incident.
On June 8, students convened a vigil at An-Najah National University to protest a recent incident in which security forces attacked the university’s Islamic bloc student representative and confiscated his phone. During the vigil, Palestinian Authority security forces in civilian clothes, students from the Islamic bloc, and students from the Student Youth Movement clashed violently. Journalists attempting to cover the vigil reported being met with violence by security forces. Reports indicate that, in at least one instance, security forces smashed a journalist’s camera.
Following the incident, An-Najah University dismissed 10 employees and students allegedly involved in the events.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence against students in apparent retaliation for their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly – 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 Palestine is party. Authorities have an obligation to refrain from taking action to restrict or punish expressive, associative, and political activity, so long as it is peaceful and responsible. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the intimidation, detention, and assault of students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.