Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Gaza Ministry of Education, which is staffed by professionals rather than party cadres, said on Wednesday that “According to the Ministry of Education, between 7 October and 26 December, more than 4,037 students and 209 educational staff were killed, and more than 7,259 students and 619 teachers were injured in Gaza.” So reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Let me just repeat this incredible statistic. Israel has murdered over 4,000 students. Moreover, we haven’t heard a peep about this from any university administration in the United States — offices that routinely denounce attacks on higher education elsewhere in the world. People who are up in arms about banning books in schools don’t seem to care about this big pile of dead students, including K-12 and undergraduates.
If you think the below apocalyptic landscape from northern Gaza results from targeted strikes against Hamas militants, then there is something wrong with your reasoning abilities.
Northern Gaza is no more. An unspeakable crimepic.twitter.com/PAyabfjzf3
— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) December 27, 2023
It is this random leveling of every building in sight that produced the over 4,000 student deaths.
Saudi Arabia’s Asharq News further reports that the indiscriminate campaign of aerial bombardment has destroyed 342 schools, educational institutes, and universities. This according to Hazem al-Shemlawi the Public Relations Director for the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education.
Some 425 college and university students have been killed by the bombs, along with 19 university staffers.
I repeat: The Israelis have rubbed out 425 undergraduates.
One of the university professors killed, in what some have alleged to have been a deliberately targeted strike by the Israeli military, was Refaat al-Areer a Shakespeare and John Donne specialist at the Islamic University of Gaza (since destroyed).
He refused to leave northern Gaza, saying that the most dangerous thing in his house was a pen. He seems to have known that the Israelis would try to kill him for being outspoken. The strike that murdered him also killed his brother, his sister, and her four children. His last poem became famous:
— Refaat in Gaza 🇵🇸 (@itranslate123) November 1, 2023
About 19 institutions of higher education in Gaza served 88,000 students and employed 5200 staffers before October 7, since which time they have all been closed and several have been demolished.
Israel’s total war against the people of Gaza clearly aims to deprive them of their culture. Studies of victims of past wars have shown that such interruptions in education have a life-long negative impact on employability and standard of living. Students living through bombardment and displacement also suffer from mood disorders later in life at a higher rate.
In addition, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) ran 183 schools, which served 278,000 students. Because UNRWA is perpetually underfunded, most of its schools have had to run two shifts. UNRWA was established to serve the millions of Palestinian refugees descended from the Palestinians ethnically cleansed by the Israelis in 1948 and those displaced in 1967. Some 70% of Gaza’s residents are descended from such refugees who were forced out of their homes or off their farms in southern Israel by Zionist blackshirts.
The UNRWA shools are also closed, and many are being used as shelters for the 1.9 million people Israeli bombing has displaced from their homes. Some UNRWA schools, as in Beit Hanoun, have been blown up by Israeli forces on the ridiculous charge that they were Hamas outposts. Aljazeera reported earlier this month, “UN schools and buildings continue to be targeted by Israel, while also being used as shelters for thousands of displaced Palestinians.”
Asharq reports that the Gaza government has categorized 1,745 Israeli bombings as “massacres.” The Israeli air force has damaged or destroyed 126 government buildings. It has completely destroyed 92 schools and universities. It has inflicted significant damage on 285 schools.
19 institutions belonging to the Ministry of Higher Education have been closed by the Israeli bombing, depriving 88,000 students of their education for three months in a row.
Shemlawi says that the buildings of the al-Azhar University branch in south Gaza have been largely destroyed by Israeli shelling.
The following footage from TikTok shows the bombing of al-Azhar University in Gaza in November.
@pandapunk303 The sad part is they wont face any punishment. #freepalestine🇵🇸❤️ #alazhar #alazharuniversity #freepalestine #palestine #gaza #istandwithpalestine #foryou #fyp #crime #university #school #speakup #tiktoknew #wow #sad #messedup ♬ سبحان الله – Ali Dawud
The footage below says it shows the state this month of al-Azhar University in Gaza:
Al-Azhar University in Gaza was established in 1991 by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the secular rival of Hamas. It is not related to the al-Azhar in Cairo. It has 14,391 students and 387 faculty members, though some of these are now dead and none of them have any buildings in which to learn or teach. It had been ranked around 171 out of 200 among Arab regional universities, and it is amazing that it wasn’t at the bottom given that it functioned in an occupied territory under economic siege since 2007.
This was AUG’s medical school. All Gone.