Israeli army and security service units raided the premises of the science and technology campus of Al-Quds University at Abu-Dis southeast of Jerusalem late last month in a move to crack down on terrorist suspects and the groups that support them.
Although Palestinian campuses have been the target of searches and closures since the start of the Intifada in 1987, this is the first time that the East Jerusalem-based Al-Quds University has been the focus of such an extensive army operation.
The high-profile operation followed public pressure on the Rabin government to stop the activities of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas organisations as the death toll from the Netanya bomb blast rose to 21.
Army intelligence is quoted as having received information that the Al-Quds campus was being used by Islamic groups opposed to the peace process in order to prepare attacks against Israelis.
During the raid, 21 activists belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of which are now proscribed organisations under Israeli law, were arrested. Some damage to the university buildings was also reported and four students were taken to a local hospital after being injured during struggles with soldiers.
The raid began at 2am when the director of student affairs was asked by the army to open student union offices. When he said he did not have a set of keys, the army broke down the doors and carried out a search. Searches were also carried out in the laboratories and the library.
Meanwhile, other army units broke into the student dormitories after they had been refused entry, and assembled the 150 occupants in a nearby yard where some were marked with numbers on their hands, neck or forehead.
Eye witnesses reported that the security service personnel had lists of those wanted for questioning and that some of those detained were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs.
During their search, the army uncovered seditious posters, knives, axes, a homemade pistol, items of Israeli army uniform, and a number of kippas or skullcaps as worn by strict Jews. These last two finds were of particular concern to the security forces as several recent attacks (including the Netanya bomb) have been carried out by terrorists dressed either as Israeli civilians or Israeli soldiers.
An army spokesperson said that security personnel had used "controlled force" to carry out their orders and that the university would be financially compensated for any damage that occurred during the operation.
Al-Quds University has appealed to the International Association of Universities to put pressure on the Israeli government to abstain from such actions in the future.