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Three Israeli army vehicles stormed the Birzeit University Campus on Saturday July 27, 2002 afternoon for no apparent reason. Members of the University administration and students had a severe argument with the soldiers, and forbade the vehicles to move further into the campus forcing them to leave after ten minutes. When contacted by phone, the Israeli commander in the area denied that there were orders for the vehicles to enter the campus.
It is worth mentioning that this the first time such provocation occurs on the campus itself. The University administration is worried that today’s provocation was just a pre-warning visit and that the army will be back again, wreaking havoc within the campus, as it did with many other Palestinian institutions over the last few months.
The University has been operating recently under severe conditions due to the imposed curfews on the main cities and the check-posts which prevent people from free access to the University. In spite of such obstacles, students and faculty are doing all they can so that they can complete the course work and end the semester within the next week or so. Normally, the semester would have ended about two months earlier.
The University looks at today’s provocation very seriously as this is an infringement on the sanctity of an academic institution. It will bring up the case to UNESCO and other international organizations that deal with issues related to human rights and academic freedom.