BYU Jerusalem Center relocating students, faculty members to Greece
Oct 13, 2023, 9:53 AM | Updated: 10:03 am
(Mark A. Philbrick, BYU)
SALT LAKE CITY — The BYU Jerusalem Center is relocating its fall 2023 program to Greece, according to university statements.
University officials said that in addition to the 93 students and faculty, faculty families and service couples will also relocate to Greece. The program started with 94 students; one student fractured bones in her foot and returned home for surgery before the current violence in Israel began on Oct. 7.
After Hamas attacked Israel last Saturday, all of the students at the BYU Jerusalem Center were safe and accounted for. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors BYU and the Jerusalem Center. BYU officials have access to a robust security information network.
On Monday, the center said students and faculty were moved to the center’s shelters for the duration of a short rocket attack. “Rockets on a trajectory toward greater Jerusalem, which includes the western-most parts of the municipal area, trigger the alarms,” read a security update from the center. “The rockets were either intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system or fell harmlessly in rural areas between Gaza and Jerusalem.”
The Associated Press reported that Friday’s weekly Muslim prayers brought protests across the Middle East, and tensions ran high in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Israel has bombarded Gaza round-the-clock since a weekend attack in which Hamas fighters stormed into the country’s south and massacred hundreds, including children in their homes and young people at a music festival. Militants also snatched some 150 people and dragged them into Gaza.
Hamas said Israel’s airstrikes killed 13 of the hostages in the past day. It said the dead included foreigners but did not give their nationalities.
The war has already claimed over 2,800 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. Israel has traded fire in recent days with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, sparking fears of an ever wider conflict, though that frontier is currently calm.
When Israel has been attacked in the past, the BYU Jerusalem Center has reduced travel, sheltered students in place or closed the center temporarily depending on the level of risk, according to the Deseret News.
For example, studies at the center were suspended from 2000-07 due to unrest in the area.
The center, while a mile from the Old City, is in an isolated area surrounded by important Arab sites and neighborhoods.