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Cablegate: Hamas Security Foray Into Al-Azhar University In

VZCZCXRO0265
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0567 0921600
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011600Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1063
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 000567

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER KWBG IS PGOV
SUBJECT: HAMAS SECURITY FORAY INTO AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY IN
GAZA; TRUSTEES CALL FOR SIT-IN PROTESTS, CLASS SUSPENSION


1. (SBU) Summary. University contacts report that Hamas
Executive Force gunmen and pro-Hamas students forcibly
entered of al-Azhar University in Gaza City on March 31,
occupying the campus and assaulting several students and
staff before leaving later the same day. University
administrators had attempted to prevent a large rally to
commemorate Ahmad Yasin's 2004 death. University trustees
called for sit-in protests and suspension of all classes, and
most classes were canceled March 31-April 1. End summary.

Hamas Gunmen Enter University,
Beat Students and Staff
------------------------------

2. (SBU) According to university contacts and local press,
Hamas Executive Force gunmen forcibly entered and occupied
buildings at al-Azhar University in Gaza City early on March
31 before departing by the afternoon of the same day. (Note:
While al-Azhar has student groups from all factions, the
university and its administration have historically been
informally associated with Fatah. End note). University
officials had attempted to prevent a large rally to
commemorate the death of Hamas spiritual leader Ahmad Yasin,
as part of a general ban on political demonstrations on
campus. Pro-Hamas students called on Hamas security men to
forcibly allow the rally, and there are press reports that
several students, professors and staff were beaten by the
gunmen as the Executive Force occupied the campus.

3. (U) Al-Azhar Vice President for Administration Jabr
al-Da'ur told local press that Hamas gunmen and students hung
Hamas flags and posters of Ahmad Yasin and other Hamas
leaders all over the campus. Hamas security officials
claimed to local press that the Executive Force had acted
properly and needed to enter the university to restore order
amidst fighting between students.

Trustees Condemn Invasion, Call for
Cancellation of Classes, Sit-In Protests
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) University trustees voted April 1 to condemn the
Executive Force move and called for a sit-in protest and
temporary cancellation of classes. Most classes were
canceled on March 31 and April 1; university contacts say the
administration is currently deliberating whether to resume
classes April 2 or delay re-opening for a week. Separately,
on April 1 in Gaza City about 500 Palestinians peacefully
protested Hamas' actions at of the University.

WALLES

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