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On Friday, August 15, the Israeli Civil Administration (the authority that administers the military Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza) told the presidents of Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University that they could reopen their universities.
The Civil Administration forced the two universities to close in January for six months after the Israeli claimed several Palestinians from the universities had carried out attacks against Israel.
The military welded shut all the gates and doors of the universities, effectively barring entry to students and staff as well as preventing access to university computer files.
The Civil Administration told the university presidents that they could reopen if they informed Israel of student activities. While university officials strongly condemned the use of violence, they asserted that it was not their job to play the role of police for Israel.
At the end of the six months, the Israeli military extended the closures two times, each time for one month.
With the campuses closed, the students had to take their classes in elementary and high schools throughout Hebron. Labs, however, could not be completed because the necessary equipment was in the universities’ buildings. As a result, students were unable to complete many of their courses.
On several occasions, students from the universities reopened their campuses and buildings in an attempt to return to their regular classes. The students did not receive full co-operation from the universities’ administrations, because of pressures applied by the Israeli military.
On August 11, Hebron University tried to have a graduation ceremony for its students, but was forced by the Israeli military to postpone it.
When the Israeli Civil Administration told the presidents they could reopen their universities, they did not give the presidents written permission, only verbal. The presidents asked for written permission, and the Civil Administration said they would fax written statements in the near future.
The reopening of the Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University comes in the middle of the summer term, and in time for fall registration.