On November 8, 2023, Israeli forces forcibly entered Birzeit University, causing damage to university infrastructure.
Six military vehicles entered Birzeit’s campus, and Israeli forces raided the Student Council’s office, damaging property and taking Palestinian flags and students’ belongings. The basis for the raid is unclear, but it comes a month after a previous raid on the university’s Student Council’s office (see report).
The event 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.
Classes were not taking place at Birzeit at the time of the incident. The university had decided to switch to online learning in October, following the escalating attacks by Israeli forces in the West Bank after Hamas’ attack.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the forced entry into a higher education institution by military forces. While security forces have a responsibility to maintain security and safety, they must also refrain from the disproportionate use of force and ensure that their actions do not endanger civilians. Absent a compelling reason to do so, campus raids undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.