On October 28, 2023, a large group of Jewish Israeli protesters trapped around 50 Palestinian students from Netanya Academic College in their dorms while chanting “Death to Arabs.”
The incident occurred against the backdrop of a surprise Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that left over 1,000 Israelis and foreign nationals dead and more than 200 abducted, and the subsequent Israeli military bombardment of the Gaza Strip which, as of mid-November, has reportedly killed more than 11,000 Palestinians.
The protesters – who were residents of the local community – accused the Palestinian students of disrupting a Shabbat service earlier in the day by throwing two eggs at the local synagogue and playing loud music. Social media posts also claimed that the Palestinian students had hung Palestinian flags. Police, who investigated the incident, found no evidence to support these accusations.
Police were able to evacuate the students out of the building safely. No one was injured.
Following the attack, Netanya’s mayor ordered a full investigation of the incident and for the dorms to be vacated. She said that the dorms would be used to house people who had been evacuated from southern Israel following Hamas’s attack. The Netanya Academic College said that classes would be held on Zoom until further notice.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about targeted attacks intended to intimidate, threaten, or otherwise harm members of the university community on the basis of their ethnic or national identity, or political beliefs. Members of the public have a responsibility to refrain from interfering in the functioning of higher education. State authorities have an obligation to take available measures to protect the functioning of the higher education space, and to respond appropriately to threats, particularly during a period of heightened vulnerability of the higher education space. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such acts undermine institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.