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Israeli forces raid the Palestinian Birzeit University

AFP , Monday 11 Jan 2016
Birzeit
Birzeit University (Courtesy of http://www.birzeit.edu)
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The Israeli occupation army raided a top Palestinian university in the occupied West Bank overnight, seizing computer equipment and causing damage, the university said Monday.

"A large number of soldiers came about 2:30 am (0030 GMT), blowing open the locks, breaking into three buildings and banning the university guards from approaching," Ghassan Khatib, vice president of Birzeit University, told AFP.

The army seized computers, speakers and other electronic equipment used by the student council, he added.

Located in Ramallah, the university is the best-known in the West Bank, the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

The university published photos showing rooms ransacked, including those reserved for the student council, on its Facebook page.

The contents of cupboards were littered across the floor, with computers whose hard drives had been extracted strewn on the ground.

Islamists affiliated to Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, won the student council elections in the university's council last April.

Al-Khatib called the raid a "violation of the university's campus and an interference in academic life," adding that it was contrary to international agreements on academic independence. The Israeli army also raided the university in June 2014.

The Israeli army confirmed the raid, saying soldiers seized "Hamas propaganda material" as it constituted an "incitement to violence".

Israel argues incitement has contributed to the violence and has closed at least three Palestinian radio stations over such allegations, while also increasing the number of raids.

The current wave of protests by Palestinians and repression by Israeli occupation forces started in late July when toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians were severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

Palestinian protests were also triggered by an increase in Jewish visitors to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is considered the third holiest site in Islam. Palestinians fear that Israel is preparing to allow Jewish prayers in the mosque, which are not currently allowed.

Settlement-building, racial discrimination, confiscation of identity cards, long queues at checkpoints, as well as daily clashes and the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, have been Palestinians' daily routine.

The anger of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem has increased in the last three years after the Israeli authorities allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa mosque.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online.

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