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: November 06, 2023

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Al-Azhar University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Around November 6, 2023, Israeli air forces bombed the campus of Al-Azhar University, located south of Gaza City, destroying buildings.

Videos circulated on social media on November 4 showed Israeli forces bombing the university, with media sources and rights groups later saying that the university had been destroyed. The Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and Research had previously condemned direct attacks by Israeli forces on Al-Azhar University on October 11.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the 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.

Sources:
https://www.jordannews.jo/Section-126/All/Israel-flattens-Al-Azhar-University-in-Gaza-32042
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/24/how-israel-has-destroyed-gazas-schools-and-universities#:~:text=Geneva%2Dbased%20independent%20Euro%2DMed,a%20statement%20issued%20on%20Saturday
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20231106-israeli-air-strikes-target-gazas-al-azhar-university/
https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-says-destruction-of-gaza-university-deadly-attack-on-u-n-facilities-and-refugee-camp-shows-international-community-must-act-to-stop-israeli-governments-genocidal-campaign/
https://mesana.org/advocacy/committee-on-academic-freedom/2024/01/25/letter-condemning-the-devastating-military-campaign-in-gaza
https://twitter.com/Timesofgaza/status/1720757985209680024