Hamas is pressuring student organizations in universities within the Palestinian Authority to escalate activities against the PA, as internal violence in the PA intensifies.
The Student Council of Bir Zeit University has called for the dismissal of the university administration, including the Dean of Student Affairs and the spokesperson. The students, members of the Hamas’ student body, the “Kitla Islamia” (Islamic Bloc) in Bir Zeit, claim that the administration is responsible for the IDF’s arrest operation on Monday, during which undercover troops arrested Ismail Barghouti, the coordinator of the Islamic Bloc, and four other students.
Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli force arrived at the university gates in minibuses bearing PA license plates and arrested the group of suspects.
The students in Bir Zeit, which in recent years has become a center of friction and conflict with the Palestinian Authority, claim that this incident was a joint operation carried out in coordination between Israel and the PA, and that some of their students, members of the Islamic Bloc, have been detained by the Palestinian Authority for three months.
The Islamic Bloc claims that the students arrested by Israel were recently warned by the university administration after a violent incident that led to the closing of its gates.
Members of the Islamic Bloc expressed opposition to the PA, accusing PA security forces of deliberately disappearing from the area to allow the special Israeli force to operate, adding that “while the Palestinian Authority is working against resistance elements in Jenin, it is allowing Israel to operate in universities.”
Ibrahim Madhoun, a Hamas member in Gaza, wrote Tuesday that “students are the solid core of the Palestinian national struggle and of political activity.”
In December, Israel’s combined security forces uncovered and thwarted an infrastructure of activists from a Hamas student cell from the A-Najah University in Shechem (Nablus). The IDF arrested 11 members of Hamas’ student body involved in a number of subversive activities for Hamas in Judea and Samaria, including the transfer of funds, organizing rallies in support of Hamas, and incitement campaigns under the supervision and direction of senior Hamas officials.
IDF Spokesperson for Arab Media Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee has warned that joining the Islamic Bloc means recruiting students to Hamas’ ranks, adopting its ideological line, being ready to work for it, and Hamas covering university tuition fees for its members.
In recent weeks, internal violence in the Palestinian Authority has intensified. The most worrying phenomenon for the Palestinian Authority and elements in Israel is the violence that is currently focused on campuses and universities, where the power of the “Kitla Islamia” is significant. The universities, which were the main focal points of terrorism in the second intifada, have emerged in recent weeks as a significant force of opposition to the Palestinian Authority.
Fatah sources told TPS that the very serious incidents of violence recently uncovered at a number of Palestinian Authority universities may indicate that Hamas is behind at least some of the cases and is encouraging the Islamic Bloc to raise its head against Abbas’ rule.
Previously at Bir Zeit University, there was a severe brawl between groups of students, which led the Board of Trustees to close the university. The brawl began following a claim by one of the student leaders that he had been attacked by three Fatah activists.