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The minister of education in the Palestinian Authority has thanked the global student movement for its efforts to “bring justice” to those in Gaza and the West Bank.

A square with rounded corners colored with a changing gradient that starts red and pink on the top left and changes to purple and blue on the bottom right. On this background are the white letters "T," "H" and "E." To the right of the rounded square, black text reads "Times Higher Education."

Pro-Palestinian encampments, which began at U.S. institutions but have since spread around the world, have called for universities to do more to help those affected by Israel’s military reprisals against Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks.

The Israeli “war machine” has caused a crisis in higher education inside Palestine, according to Amjad Barham, the authority’s minister of education. The authority exercises civil control in the West Bank, but not Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007.

“The tragedy in Gaza is something you can’t believe,” Barham told Times Higher Education.

“The Palestinians spent a lot of years to build their universities … and in a few days everything [has] gone. It’s not easy for us. It’s a heavy duty for us.”

Every university in Gaza has been destroyed by Israeli military action in a strategy that has been branded “educide.” Israel has claimed that some campuses were being used by Hamas forces. Meanwhile, scores of academics and thousands of students are reported to have been killed.

Barham, who was previously president of the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, said the government was attempting to “rescue” the academic year for the remaining students in Gaza and the West Bank by helping them join classes in neighboring countries or online.

Speaking to THE during the Education World Forum conference, Barham, who was also president of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, said institutions in the West needed to “stand with Palestinian universities.”

He said short-term courses or exchanges could help prevent students from losing out on any more education and allow them to graduate and get a job that could help their families back home—and in turn help to rebuild the “peaceful state” of Palestine.

The academic movement in support of the Palestinians has led to hundreds of arrests and triggered bitter divides on Western campuses, but it has also caused some institutions to either divest from Israeli companies or to boycott Israeli universities.

“You are seeing students and professors standing with the Palestinian rights because they believe … that there must be justice,” said Barham.

“I believe we are not alone; we are with many friends from all over the world who believe that Palestinians have suffered a lot … and we should stand with them and stop this occupation.

“We are in need for these voices, which will, inshallah [if Allah wills it], give justice to our people inside Palestine.”

A new Palestinian Authority government was formed in March. Education was the subject of the first meeting of the new government because of its vital importance to the Palestinian people, said Barham.

“With the determination of all the Palestinian people, we can rebuild these universities, and with help from friends and those believing in justice, we can go on and achieve our goals to educate our sons and daughters,” he said.

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