Two students from the University of Manchester were not able to reach An-Najah their twin university in the West Bank due to the city being under siege, curfew, and attack from the Israeli army.
The students were in the west bank on a family visit, and agreed to visit an-Najah for the purpose of collecting important documents for the UMSU. However for the duration of their visit, the city of Nablus was under incursions from the Israeli army, to the damage of 40 million Israeli shekels, and the injury of 38 civilians including 2 disabled civilians and medical staff.
The students had arranged with the staff of the university and the students’ council to visit the university but every time they tried to travel from Bethlehem to Nablus (around 50miles) they were turned away by Israeli checkpoints around the Nablus.
Also, the journey, straight from Bethlehem to Nablus should take no more than one and a half hours. However, due to the status of the Manchester students, they were not allowed to go through Jerusalem, so the detour including waiting at the Israeli checkpoints took them up to four hours each time.
Palestinian students from An-Najah were clearly disappointed the visit was not allowed to happen when he said: “I was looking forward to meeting students from UMSU, the support we had from them is amazing, but it’s different when it’s face to face.”
Rana Batarseh, from UMSU was equally disappointed, “I guess this is why we choose to twin with a Palestinian university, the travel restrictions are collective punishment embossed on a whole people, they don’t allow a normal life to go on, we had been looking forward to this visit for a long time, I really hope, these the conditions change for the sake of the people who are living here. I was also shocked to hear that students from An Najah university were illegally detained by the Israeli army during the incursion without charge, and to this day haven’t been charged. I really think that UMSU should do something to support these students, who add to the 56 already being tortured in Israeli jails.”
The twinning between UMSU and An Najah University began after the motion to twin the two institutions was passed at the March 2006 General Meeting. Since then the two institutions have hosted shared events. The twinning has ignited many a debate on campus surrounding the situation in Palestine and has faced some opposition yet many students support this link and also defended this twinning at Nov 14th General Meeting 2007.
Dr Nabil’s thoughts on the invasion “The invasion happened at a time when the governor of Nablus was able to restore order to the City by collecting arms from all armed men who roamed the streets of Nablus. The invasion disturbed the students who live in the City away from their families after commuting has become impossible because of the atrocities and harassments they are exposed to at the roadblocks. The invasion increases frustrations among the young population of university students, who were anticipating an ease up of the situation after Annapolis only to face a new wave of unjustified harassment. The Israelis always like to abort all attempts made at improving the Palestinian conditions under the pretext of Security. Palestinian young men are aware of the fact that detaining, humiliating and killing helpless young men will certainly not help in promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians aim at evacuating Palestinian young from their land after driving them to the limits of despair. The invasion renewed scenes of bloodshed in the street of Nablus; one Palestinian young man was shot in the head on his way to the Friday prayer right in front of The Old Campus of An-Najah National University. The killed man was a father of two young children and the Israeli soldiers admitted killing him by mistake. During the incursion, the University was closed for three days, and several young people were arrested.
Nabil Alawi, Ph.D., Director, Public Relations Department