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Friday, April 4, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Hamas seizes Palestinian university

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime has sought to control one of the last Fatah-dominated institutions in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said the Hamas regime has sent operatives to take over Al Azhar University. The university, located Gaza City, has been a Fatah stronghold for nearly 30 years and resisted the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

"Hamas sees Al Azhar as the last bastion of Fatah in the Gaza Strip," a Palestinian activist said. "All the other Fatah institutions have either been destroyed or went underground."

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On March 31, Hamas sent operatives to storm Al Azhar and capture the student administration. Witnesses said members of the Hamas-sponsored Islamic Bloc raided the university, detained security guards and assaulted teachers and students. At that point, the operatives began decorating the university with Hamas flags and posters to memorialize Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, assassinated by Israel in 2003.

Al Azhar vice president Jaber El Da'our said he and several aides responded to the Hamas takeover. When they arrived on campus, El Da'our said, the Hamas operatives began harassing the university administrators.

"The teachers and I decided to stay away from them and their ceremony," El Da'our recalled. "However, they pursued us again and started to assault us till we left campus. We demonstrated near the main university entrance; however the police came and beat us and insulted us using gas to disperse us."

A university woman student said she was attacked by Hamas operatives on campus. The student said she required hospitalization after she was sprayed with chloride.

Hamas police acknowledged that university teachers and students were attacked by officers. Hamas police commander Gen. Tawfiq Jaber said the Fatah-aligned staffers and students had been blocking a main artery outside the campus.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the Hamas raid was part of its campaign against the opposition Fatah movement. The center urged the Hamas regime to maintain academic freedom in the Gaza Strip.

"PCHR calls upon all parties to keep universities and educational institutions out of the ongoing power struggle between Fatah and Hamas," the group said.

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