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Violation Report, Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit University, 14 March 2005
On the afternoon of Monday, 14 March, two Israeli occupation Army jeeps and eight Israeli soldiers set up an arbitrary checkpoint at the entrance gates to Birzeit University. The soldiers were stopping and harassing students leaving the University at the end of the school day.
Three members of the Birzeit University administration approached the soldiers to ask them to leave the University premises, speaking to the soldiers in both Hebrew and English. The soldiers made no response, despite being told that blocking the entrance and exit of the University is illegal and that their deliberate provocation of students may lead to a confrontation. Riham Barghouti, Director of Public Relations at Birzeit University, said: “they were totally ignoring us and had smirks on their faces, as if they were enjoying the power play. They didn’t respond, it was as if we weren’t there”.
In reaction to the provoking and obstructive presence of the Israeli soldiers at the gates to the University, a number of Birzeit students began to throw stones at the soldiers to try to force them to leave.
The soldiers responded by shooting rubber and live bullets and throwing tear gas bombs on to the campus, injuring seven Birzeit University students who received medical treatment for tear gas inhalation and burns. One student attempting to leave the University with three female students was stopped by the soldiers, blindfolded and handcuffed, and detained for three hours. The checkpoint created havoc within the University, halting the ability of students and faculty to carry out their academic work, while causing dismay, fear and anger among the members of the University community for over 3 hours.
Four days previously, on the morning of Thursday 10 March, the Israeli Army had similarly blocked the entrance to Birzeit University with two Army jeeps and eight soldiers, stopping students on their way in to the University. On Wednesday March 16, the soldiers again blocked the entrance gates to the University during the afternoon.
Birzeit University is subject to frequent harassment by the Israeli occupation and was virtually sealed off by an Israeli Army roadblock for two-and-a-half years, between March 2001-December 2003. Since the permanent roadblock was dismantled, the road from Ramallah to Birzeit continues to be regularly blocked by arbitrary ‘flying checkpoints’, which prevent students and faculty from reaching Birzeit University.
|Israeli Army soldiers block the entrance and exit of Birzeit University|
|Tear gas bombs on the campus injured 7 Birzeit University students|
For more articles on the Israeli military obstruction of access to Birzeit University, please go to Birzeit-Surda Roadblock.