The Israeli army has killed 94 university professors, along with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students, as part of its genocidal war against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement issued on Saturday.
According to Euro-Med Monitor, the Israeli army has targeted academic, scientific, and intellectual figures in the Strip in deliberate and specific air raids on their homes without prior notice.
Initial data indicates that there is no justification or clear reason behind the targeting of these people, said the Geneva-based human rights organisation.
Those targeted include 17 individuals who held professor degrees, 59 who held doctoral degrees, and 18 who held master’s degrees, the rights group stated. Due to challenges with documentation brought on by movement difficulties, the disruption of communications and the Internet, and the existence of thousands of unaccounted-for/missing individuals, Euro-Med Monitor estimates suggest that there are additional numbers of targeted academics, including those with advanced degrees, whose deaths have not been tallied.
The targeted academics studied and taught across academic disciplines, and many of their ideas served as cornerstones of academic research in the Gaza Strip’s universities. The rights group added that given the systematic and widespread destruction by Israeli forces of cultural buildings, including institutions of great historical significance, it is highly likely that Israel is intentionally targeting every aspect of life in Gaza.
Israel systematically destroyed every university in the Gaza Strip in stages throughout the more than 100-day attack. The first stage included the bombing of the Islamic and Al-Azhar universities. The other universities suffered similar assaults; some, like Al-Israa University in southern Gaza, were destroyed after initially being used as military barracks. The Israeli media released a video clip on Wednesday 17 January, capturing Al-Israa’s explosion. The explosion occurred 70 days after the Israeli military transformed the school into barracks and, later, into a temporary detention facility.
According to preliminary estimates, the ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of university students. The rights group pointed out that destroying universities and killing academics and students will make it more difficult to resume university and academic life when the genocide ends, saying it may take years for studies to be resumed in an environment that has been destroyed.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, 4,327 students have been killed and 7,819 others injured, while 231 teachers and administrators have been killed and 756 injured during the ongoing attacks. Meanwhile, 281 state-run schools and 65 UNRWA-run schools in the Gaza Strip have been completely or partially destroyed.
Ninety per cent of state-run schools have been subjected to direct or indirect damage, and about 29% of school buildings remain out of service as a result of their being completely demolished or severely damaged. 133 other schools are being used as shelter centres in the Strip.
Israel’s widespread and intentional destruction of Palestinian cultural and historical properties, including universities, schools, libraries, and archives, demonstrates its apparent policy of rendering the Gaza Strip uninhabitable, Euro-Med Monitor warned. The attacks are creating an environment devoid of basic services and necessities and may eventually force the Strip’s population to emigrate.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stressed that the targeting of civilian objects by armed forces, particularly those that are historical or cultural artefacts protected by special laws, is not only a serious breach of international humanitarian law and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court but falls under the purview of the crime of genocide.