Mahmoud al-Tramasi, a student leader at Al-Aksa University in Gaza City, speaks at a rally outside the school.
(photo credit: screenshot)
A large group of Palestinian students gathered in front of Al-Aksa University in Gaza City on Sunday to call on officials in Gaza and Ramallah to restore their university’s accreditation.
“We stress the importance of making educational institutions neutral to political disputes and restoring this university to the broader Palestinian institutional framework,” said Mahmoud al-Tramasi, a leader of the student action front at Al-Aksa, in a statement to the press.
Tramasi stated further that he holds both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas accountable for the ongoing crisis and calls on the two to act responsibly to resolve the crisis without “throwing students into the middle of a [political] dispute.”
The PA Education Ministry last Tuesday revoked Al-Aksa’s accreditation and called on students to register for classes elsewhere, as a part of a dispute with authorities in the Hamas-run offices of the Education Ministry in Gaza.
The dispute dates back to last year last year when PA Education Minister Khawla Shaksheer appointed Abdul Salam Abu Zaida as acting university president to succeed Ali Abu Zuhri. The Hamas-run offices of the Education Ministry in Gaza rejected the appointment and instead tapped Muhammad Radwan as a replacement without permission from the PA Education Ministry in Ramallah.
Months later, the PA Education Ministry protested the decision and put pressure on Hamas-run offices of the Education Ministry in Gaza to rescind its decision, cutting the salaries of 11 professors, believed to be affiliated with Hamas.
More recently, after the Hamas-run offices of the Education Ministry in Gaza relocated two professors to local colleges and hired new professors without the approval of Ramallah, the PA Education Ministry formally withdrew its recognition of Al-Aksa, the largest university in the Gaza Strip.
In his statement, Tramasi also called on PA and Hamas authorities to review an Al-Aksa professor’s proposal to resolve the crisis, which would entail appointing a non-political technocrat as president.
According to a source in the Gaza Strip, many students are now asking Al-Aksa administrators to refund their fees and trying to register at other universities. Meanwhile, other students, who are in the middle of their studies, are concerned about the fate of their future diplomas.
In the past week, Hamas and Fatah have accused each other of sabotaging each other’s municipal election campaigns, ahead of the vote set for October.