On August 5, 2022, Israel conducted airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, damaging a branch of Al-Quds Open University in northern Gaza, injuring hundreds, and killing several students.
The attack reportedly took place amidst mounting tensions between Israeli forces and Palestinian militant groups. In a statement issued by Al-Quds Open University following the airstrike, the institution “condemns the brutal Israeli aggression, which targeted our people in the Gaza Strip, […] and also caused damage to the university’s branch in the northern Gaza Strip, as the occupation shells targeted it directly.”
Reports indicate that the following students were killed in the strikes: Osama Abdul Rahman Al Suri (University of Palestine), Tamim Ghassan Hegazy (University of Palestine), Doniana Adnan Al-Amour (Al-Aqsa University), Ahmed Adeeb Afana (Al-Quds Open University), Ziyad Ahmed Al-Mudallal (Israa University).
Gaza University reported that Abdel Aziz Rami Shakya, a student, had been injured.
In response to the airstrikes, eight universities in the Gaza Strip—University College of Applied Sciences – Gaza, the Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Aqsa University, Al-Azhar University – Gaza, the University of Palestine, Gaza University, Al-Quds Open University and Israa University Gaza—announced their temporary closure.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent targeting of university facilities in armed 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. Likewise, parties must refrain from using higher education facilities for military purposes during active conflict. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.