Tue 11-June-2024

Academics call for saving Gaza’s universities and resist “Knowledge Genocide”

Sunday 2-June-2024

GAZA, (PIC)

Academics and university workers in the Gaza Strip have called for the development of a long-term strategy to rehabilitate educational infrastructure and swiftly transition to online education to mitigate the impacts on university education resulting from the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Strip, which has persisted for approximately eight months.

A statement signed by over 180 academics and university staff in Gaza urged academics worldwide to resist the ongoing campaign of “knowledge genocide” in occupied Palestine in general, and in the Gaza Strip in particular. They emphasized the need to work together to rebuild demolished universities and reject all plans aimed at bypassing, erasing, or weakening existing academic institutions.

The statement stressed that the future of Gaza’s youth depends on the ability of academic cadres to remain in their homeland to serve future generations. The signatories of the statement issued it under the bombardment of Israeli occupation forces throughout Gaza, from refugee camps in Rafah, and from their temporary exiles in Egypt and other host countries, considering the “deliberate targeting of educational infrastructure a blatant attempt to make Gaza uninhabitable and to dismantle the intellectual and cultural fabric of our society.”

The statement also highlighted what it described as the involvement of partners in the United States and the United Kingdom in the campaign of “Israeli knowledge genocide,” noting that they “are working to block the future path for the reconstruction of our universities as part of a broader process aimed at eliminating the chance for an independent Palestinian educational life in Gaza.”

While the statement emphasized the rejection of these plans, it called on academics around the world to refuse to collude with such projects. It also noted the urgent need to restart Gaza’s educational institutions not only to support current students but also to ensure the resilience and continuity of the higher education system as a vital pillar and beacon of hope for the Palestinian people.

The statement concluded by stressing the necessity of comprehensive support to cover operational expenses, including salaries, after Gaza’s universities lost their primary income source, namely student fees. It also highlighted the urgent need to transition quickly to online education to alleviate the disruption caused by the destruction of university infrastructure.

Prominent signatories of the statement include the President of Al-Azhar University in Gaza, the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic University, and deans of faculties of medicine, science, agriculture, economics, law, and Sharia, as well as department heads, professors, and administrators from several universities in the Strip.

During its ongoing war on Gaza over the past eight months, occupation forces have deliberately flattened all major universities, disrupting the educational journey of approximately a quarter of a million university students. The aggression has also resulted in the martyrdom of more than 120 scientists, academics, and university leaders.

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