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Israeli forces storm al-Quds University, seize documents

Jan. 29, 2016 3:20 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 6, 2016 2:34 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed Abu Dis' al-Quds Open University early Friday and confiscated equipment and documents belonging to its student union, staff members told Ma'an.

Hassan Dweik, the university's deputy head, said that up to 300 soldiers stormed the campus, holding six security guards in a room and preventing them from leaving for two and a half hours.

He said the soldiers raided the university's Islamic studies department, as well as its student union offices after smashing their way through their doors.

Dweik said the soldiers confiscated at least one computer as well as boxes filled with students' documents.

He said the soldiers fired stun grenades during the raid, and took pictures and measurements of a number of buildings inside the university campus.

He condemned the raid as a dangerous violation against education, and called on international human rights and education rights groups to decry the army's actions.

An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the reports.

Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October last year, Abu Dis' Al-Quds University has found itself a focal point of violent clashes between Palestinian students and Israeli soldiers.

A number of Palestinians who allegedly carried out stabbing attacks on Israelis were students there.

These include 19-year-old law student Muhannad Shafiq Halabi, who was shot dead at the beginning of the month after he stabbed to death two Israelis in Jerusalem's Old City -- an act that served to trigger much of the subsequent popular unrest.

Several days before the attack, Israeli media reported that Halabi posted a photograph on Facebook of Diya Talahmeh, another Palestinian studying at al-Quds University who died in unclear circumstances during an encounter with Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Khursa in September.

Israeli forces have regularly stormed university campuses across the occupied Palestinian territory in recent months.

Earlier this month, Birzeit University in Ramallah condemned an Israeli army raid into its campus, during which Israeli forces confiscated and damaged university equipment.

"Birzeit University condemns this attack and the direct violation of the sanctity of the university campus," the university said. "This is a belligerent military attack on the university and our right to education and all the principles involved in the freedom of education."

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