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Which universities in Gaza has Israel destroyed?

Attacks on colleges in Gaza City and elsewhere will impact Palestinian students and higher education for decades

Since Israel's war on Gaza started on 7 October, all universities in the besieged enclave have either been damaged or destroyed in what human rights groups have called an "ongoing crime of genocide". 

Palestinian institutions which had each enrolled thousands of students have been flattened by Israeli air strikes.

At least 95 university professors have been killed, of whom 68 held professor's degrees, according to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

The heavily damaged Islamic University in Gaza City on 15 February 2024 (AFP).

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For Gaza's 90,000 students, the future is now uncertain. For Gaza, and its education system, the devastation will last for decades.

These are the universities affected so far.

Islamic University of Gaza

Gaza's oldest degree-awarding institution, the Islamic University of Gaza was founded in 1978 and held its first classes in tents. By 2023, it had more than 17,000 students.

Israeli forces destroyed the campus on the night of 10 October after alleging that the university produced weapons. No proof of the allegations has been provided.

It is not the first time the university has been hit by Israeli forces: it was damaged during air strikes in 2008-2009 and 2014.

Al-Israa University

Gaza's youngest university, Al-Israa University was established in 2014. It was scheduled to mark its 10th anniversary this year with the opening of a public museum, highlighting Palestinian history and culture.

Its main building was occupied for 70 days by Israeli soldiers and then destroyed by explosives on 17 January.

Al-Quds Open University

Al-Quds Open University was established by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1991, and was the first open learning institute in the Palestinian territories. 

At its peak, it had 60,000 students studying across 19 branches and centres throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, making it the biggest non-campus university in Palestine.

Israeli forces turned university buildings into military barracks, before bombing the Gaza branch on 15 November.

Al-Azhar University 

Al-Azhar University was established in 1991 during the First Intifada, or uprising, after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat issued a decree to establish a Palestinian national university. At its peak, it had 12 faculties and 17,000 students.

A young Palestinian pulls a wheel cart past heavily damaged Al-Azhar University in Gaza City on 15 February 2024 (Reuters)

On 6 November, Israeli air forces bombed the university campus, which is located south of Gaza City.

Palestine Technical College

Located in Deir el-Balah, the Palestine Technical College was established in 1993 and would usually have 1,800 students.

It's now become a shelter for Palestinians forced to leave their homes.

University College of Applied Sciences

The University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS) was founded in 1998. Its main campus is in Gaza City and enrolled 8,500 students in 2023.

UCAS included a donor-funded non-profit start-up incubator that supported entrepreneurs in the Gaza Strip and helped aspiring entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful businesses.

On 22 January, Israeli forces shelled UCAS. At the time, the university was sheltering displaced Palestinian families. 

University of Palestine

The University of Palestine was established in 2005 in al-Zahra, south of Gaza City, as a Palestinian private institution for higher education. It has been used to shelter displaced families during the war.

On 17 January, Israel detonated more than 300 mines at the university.

Al-Aqsa University

In 1955, when Gaza was under Egyptian administration, an institute to train teachers was established in Gaza City.

By 1991, it had evolved into the State College of Education, before being later rebranded as Al-Aqsa University in 2001. In 2022, it had 32 laboratory spaces and 26,000 students enrolled.

Al-Aqsa University, levelled by Israeli bombardments, pictured on 15 February 2024 (Reuters)

But on 22 January, Israeli forces shelled Al-Aqsa University, which at the time was a shelter for displaced people.

Gaza University

Gaza University was established in 2006 in Gaza City and had 10 faculties, including law, education and computer sciences.

The university was destroyed in December by an Israeli air strike.

Hassan II University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

In 1992, the Hassan II University of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was founded in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, by King Mohammed VI of Morocco with a $7.8m donation.

The college was destroyed by Israeli forces in December.

Dar al-Kalima University: Gaza Training Centre 

In March 2020, the Gaza branch of Dar al-Kalima University was opened to empower potential artists through professional training and providing opportunities for young people.

It hosted workshops and exhibitions of photography, videography, painting and sculpture, as well as concerts and radio broadcasts of traditional and popular Palestinian music.

After Israel attacked Gaza in May 2021, the institution provided art therapy for children dealing with trauma. During Easter Holy Week in late March, Israeli forces destroyed the Gaza branch of the art school.

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