Since 7 October Israel has been systematically targeting houses, mosques, churches, hospitals, clinics, schools and universities in Gaza, and not only universities but their senior personnel as well. All the while, UK vice-chancellors have ducked their heads and said nothing. BRICUP has therefore sent them the following letter, calling on them to speak out against this primitive assault on higher education in Gaza.

6 December 2023

Dear Vice-Chancellor

The ongoing and long-drawn-out Israeli military operation in Gaza has produced both civilian deaths and overwhelming infrastructure destruction on a scale not seen since the Second World War. But you may not be aware of the devastation that has been visited on the Gaza university sector.

The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine has just received the distressing news of the death of Professor Sufian Tayeh, President of the Islamic University of Gaza, and an internationally recognised physicist and applied mathematician. He was killed along with his whole family on Saturday, 2 December, after Israel resumed its assault on Gaza. This is not an isolated death. On November 14th his predecessor Professor Muhammad Eid Shabir, president of the University for 15 years, a microbiologist, was killed along with several members of his family. Many hundreds of staff and students in Gaza have fallen victims to the bombardment.

The university itself had been substantially destroyed in Israeli bombardment on October 11th. (See this video.) So has Al-Azhar University, carpet bombed on November 4th. (See this video.) No university in Gaza has escaped significant damage. There is nothing random about this destruction. It is targeted, and the effect is to erase institutions emblematic of Palestine’s and Gaza’s identity.

The silence of Britain’s academic establishment at this carnage and wanton destruction has shocked us at BRICUP. Is it not time that people such as yourself, in positions of academic leadership, spoke out?

Yours sincerely

(Professor) Jonathan Rosenhead