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Harrasing students in Jenin

by Ash

Early in the morning, I left home with my friends going toward my university (the Arab American University). It’s about 40 minutes from my village. On the way, each one of us told our own story about the other day at Israeli checkpoints.

Last week (other students and I) were heading back home from classes when we were stopped at a checkpoint on a conjunction outside Jenin. While we were waiting in a long line of cars, we ran out of gas, and the driver had no choice but to ask some students to go back to Jenin and bring some gasoline.

The cars were moving very slowly, so we spent almost an hour waiting, then the cars completely stopped moving. Three Israeli soldiers on the other street of the conjunction stopped checking IDs, and instead, the soldiers waved for cars to go back. In our direction, one hummer jeep sat by the side the street with four soldiers in it, also preventing cars from moving.

A few drivers got out and walked towards the soldiers to negotiate and ask why we weren’t allowed to move anymore. One hour later, our driver managed to start the bus again and drove back to Jenin to try anther road.

For the past month, at least in Jenin area, the number of checkpoints had amazingly increased. These checkpoints are not just between two villages to prevent farmers to go to their land or workers to go to their jobs, but are also in front of universities to stop students from getting their education.

Yesterday around 2pm, two military jeeps set up a checkpoint near the gate of my university, preventing all vehicles from moving in both directions. We didn’t have any choice but to walk on foot for 35 minutes to the village of Zababdeh. When I reached the checkpoint, the soldiers were not in fact checking IDs or our bags, which is the usual tactic. So we wondered, “What is this checkpoint for?”

In the last week, many students missed their exams and classes, because they were held for hours at checkpoints or prevented from passing. Last Saturday, I had two exams to do, so I decided to stay with friends in the village of Zababdeh for the weekend (Thursday and Friday) in order to avoid the Israeli checkpoints and not miss any exams.

The Israeli army not only harasses students at checkpoints, but also inside their dormitories. Around 1am, Wednesday night, the Israeli army occupied two student dormitories for more than 8 hours. One of the dorm’s gate was broken using a hammer jeep; apparently no students were there for the weekend.

The Israeli soldiers checked the rooms, while all students from the other dorm were taken outside for questioning. A friend of mine was beaten on the face by one of the Israeli soldiers just because of the area he comes from.

While students were held outside and after checking, a volley of shots heard inside the building destroyed some furniture and left holes in the walls. Before the army let the students back to their dorm, the Israeli soldiers fired randomly at the building, then took off.