The University of Haifa on Thursday denounced a group of its students who mourned the loss of Ahmed Jaabari, the Hamas arch-terrorist who was killed on Wednesday in an Israeli air strike that launched Operation Pillar of Defense.
At about 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, around 30 to 40 Arab students assembled on one of the lawns of the university and stood for a moment of silence in memory of Jaabari.
The administration of the university later issued a statement in which it said, "The University of Haifa supports the IDF soldiers who are protecting the State of Israel and sends condolences to the families of those killed in Kiryat Malachi. The university administration has taken and will take every legal step at its disposal to prevent any provocation on its property.”
The university’s statement emphasized that the Arab students’ event was "a gathering that was held without the approval of the university. A handful of Arab students gathered, Jewish students gathered in front of them and it ended after a few minutes."
The Arab students’ provocation was condemned by several people, including MK Danny Danon (Likud), who contacted the president of the university, Amos Shapira, demanding the suspension of those Arab students.
“Treacherous statements have no place in a state-funded academic institution,” Danon said, adding, “The Arab students are affected by MK Hanin Zoabi and her friends, and are one step away from cooperation with Hamas. They must be suspended immediately.”
Danon said the students’ actions constitute incitement which encourages violent protests against State institutions and against IDF soldiers.
“Instead of thanking the army which keeps them safe, these enemies of Israel chose to act in a treacherous way that has no place in Israel," said Danon and added, "Students who conduct themselves in this manner have no right to study in an institution which is funded by the State.”
MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu) also strongly condemned the incident and said, "It is inconceivable that such events take place on the properties of institutions funded by the State of Israel. I intend to demand that the university contact the Israeli police and ask it investigate a suspicion of incitement, while disciplining the participants and expelling them immediately.”
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav denounced the incident as well and sent a letter to university president Shapira, in which he expressed his shock and disgust at the shameful ceremony.
“This does not befit the spirit of Haifa, which strives for co-existence, tolerance and dialogue,” Yahav wrote. “In truth, it is good if educational institutions lead a policy of democracy and freedom of expression to different political attitudes. However, a cynical exploitation of this natural right to promote the teachings of terrorist groups, which sanctify the killing of children and innocent civilians, crosses boundaries.”
"The University of Haifa is a respected and appreciated academic institution, and we do not want it to have an image of a body which provides a platform for organizations which deny the existence of the State of Israel,” wrote Yahav. “I expect that the university administration will publish a harsh condemnation of the incident, and will use all available means to not allow extreme and negative elements to spread their malicious propaganda between the walls of the academic institution.”