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: February 22, 2024

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Birzeit University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 22, 2024, Israeli forces arrested Saleh Abdul Majed Hassan, the president of Birzeit University’s Student Council, and Omar Zalloum, the Secretary of the Student Council’s Sports Committee.

A video posted to X (formerly Twitter) shows Israeli forces taking two people into custody. The two were detained in front of the western entrance of Birzeit University.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and detention of students, apparently for their political affiliation and exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association – conduct which is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which both Israel and Palestine are parties. 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.