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On the night of January 14/15 2003, the Israeli Army sealed the entrances off and closed by military order two higher educational institutions in Hebron (Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University) after delivering the relevant orders to the presidents of both colleges.
These actions were carried out, according to an Israeli Army spokesman, because these colleges “endorsed terror and acts of vengeance as part of their curriculum” and that although the Israeli Army does not wish to harm the innocent Palestinian population, “it has a duty to prevent education that incites murder of Israelis”. The initial closure order, dated 10 January 2003, and signed by the Commander of the Central Region of the Israeli military forces in the West Bank, General Moshe Kaplinski, was activated for fourteen days, containing within it a clause that allowed for an extension of up to six months, which was subsequently implemented.
In defiance of the Israeli military order, students of Hebron University re-opened the university on 12/13 June, which led to the resumption of some classes in the main campus shortly afterwards. However, soldiers reinforced the closure on 30 July, once again bringing education to a halt in the main university buildings. The six-month closure order was extended by a further month on two occasions, thereby ensuring that both institutions were to remain closed by Israeli military order until 9 September 2003. The Israeli Army unexpectedly opened both colleges on 15 August 2003 since when lectures have resumed in both Hebron University and Palestine Polytechnic University.
The closure of Hebron’s main higher educational institutions has had a detrimental impact on students and teachers as well as on the community at large. It created massive disruption to higher education in Hebron, with the administration of the universities forced to schedule classes to take place outside of the universities in the afternoons in a variety of unsuitable local secondary schools. The closure also placed further economic and psychological strain on students in particular, who were already facing serious obstacles as a result of an increase in Israeli punitive measures associated with the outbreak of the current Al Aqsa Intifada. These have created a climate that is far from conducive to successful participation in higher education.
This extract is taken from a research study published by the International Palestinian Youth League, in Hebron. For more details please visit www.ipyl.org.