Debatt ● Mohammed Tamimi, Ola Azam, Iyad Abualrub og Hege Hermansen
We ask you, again, to stand with your Palestinian colleagues
Due to the ongoing military aggression by the Israeli occupation forces, activity at university campuses in Palestine are severely disrupted. We would like to share with Norwegian academics how we are affected by the situation.
A bit more than two years ago, we wrote an opinion piece in Khrono that called on the international academic community to stand alongside their Palestinian colleagues. Unfortunately, the Palestinian higher education sector is worse off today than two years ago.
Through Norad’s NORHEDII-programme, we lead a six-year research and development project aimed at strengthening technology-enhanced teaching and learning in the Palestinian higher education sector. The project is a collaboration between the University of Oslo, the Palestine Polytechnic University (PPU) in Hebron, the University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS) in Gaza and Oslo Metropolitan University. Due to the ongoing military aggression by the Israeli occupation forces, all our project activities are currently on hold. We would like to share with Norwegian academics how we are affected by the situation:
At the time of writing, the UN reports (26 October) 7028 deaths and 18482 wounded Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher, as more than a thousand people remain buried under the rubble of bombed buildings. In the West Bank, 102 Palestinians have been killed, 1889 wounded and thousands have been arrested. In Gaza, more than 1.4 million Palestinians are internally displaced. Israel has bombed health facilities, schools, universities, churches, mosques, bakeries, and media houses. About 45% of all housing units in Gaza have been completely or partially damaged. Gaza is running out of water and food and Palestinians are forced to drink contaminated water.
At the University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS), located in the southern part of Gaza City, all academic activities have been completely suspended. The combination of violent bombing by warplanes and the cutting off of water, food, electricity and internet has led to the displacement of large numbers of UCAS staff and their families. Many lack food and water and are unable to communicate with the outside world. Due to the loss of communication channels, it is impossible to keep track of staff and students. As a preliminary count, six UCAS staff members (Wael Al-Zard, Ziad Al-Maghari, Mariam Al-Asali, Ibrahim Al-Dahshan, Samah Al-Dalou, Heba Al-Madamon, Musab Zino) have been brutally killed and two academic staff members have lost their first-degree relatives.
The UCAS university buildings were partially damaged a week after the initial attack. This has been followed by several bombs hitting the UCAS surroundings, which have led to the destruction of large parts of the college. We do not know the exact level of destruction, as the surrounding area was completely evacuated because of the continued bombing. It is also difficult to reach the campus because of the destruction of the infrastructure around it, including many roads.
As Khrono has reported, the same situation applies to other higher education institutions in Gaza, who have had staff and students killed in Israeli bomb attacks and university buildings destroyed.
At the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, academic activities are also gravely affected. The university had to close its doors to students and staff and most scheduled activities have been cancelled. All roads to Hebron are blocked by the Israeli military, and no one is allowed to enter or leave the city. This makes it impossible for students and teachers that live outside Hebron to reach campus. PPU has attempted to switch to online learning, but this approach largely failed due to the escalation of killings in Gaza and the West Bank.
PPU has also received a bomb threat against the campus from a group of Israeli settlers. One PPU student in his third year of an architecture degree, Mohammed Hammad, has been killed by Israeli forces. Six family members of the former head of our Civil Engineering Department have been killed in an airstrike in Gaza, and at least 30 students have been arrested by Israeli forces since 7 October. Several students have also been injured by the Israeli military when they participated in demonstrations against the ongoing bombing of Gaza.
We call, once again, on our Norwegian and international colleagues in the higher education sector to stand in solidarity with Palestinian academics. We ask that you demand:
immediate cease-fire in Gaza and an end to the ongoing violence by Israeli
settlers and occupation forces in the West Bank.
sufficient humanitarian aid is admitted to Gaza immediately and that all access
to water, food, medical supplies, electricity, and fuel is restored.
- That the 16
year-long blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted.
- An end to the occupation of Palestine.