Israel breaks promise to Gaza students

Students rely on bus transportation to get to Egypt; IDF broke pledge to High Court to renew buses.

October 25, 2007 23:56
2 minute read.
Israel breaks promise to Gaza students

Rafah guard 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

The army has broken a promise given to the High Court of Justice to renew bus transportation for Gaza Strip students to Egypt so that they can pursue their academic studies abroad, Gisha - the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement - said Thursday. According to the NGO, 670 students with visas to study abroad cannot leave the Gaza Strip because the Rafah border crossing is closed and there is no other way for them to reach Egypt. In August and September, the Coordinator of Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza arranged for shuttle buses to drive 550 students to Egypt, first transiting the Erez crossing between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, and then the Israeli-Egyptian border crossing at Nahal Oz, near Nitzana. Israel halted the shuttle service after the cabinet designated the Gaza Strip "hostile territory" on September 19. The last bus to take students crossed the border left on September 6. On September 17, Gisha petitioned the High Court to allow Khaled Mudallal, a student at Bradford University in England, and his wife, to return to his studies. The court rejected the petition after the state said it would renew the shuttle service on October 2. But no buses have operated in the more than three weeks that have ensued. Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Coordinator of Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, told The Jerusalem Post, "We are looking for a way to enable the students to leave Gaza. We tried to allow them to use the Nahal Oz border crossing, but came to the conclusion that it was very problematic because it is vulnerable to mortar fire. Now we are looking into the possibility of getting the students out via the Kerem Shalom crossing." On Monday, Gisha submitted a new petition on behalf of seven students and four family dependents who are among those waiting to return to their studies. One of them is Wissam Abuajwa, 30, who was accepted by a British university for postgraduate work in environmental science. This is his fourth attempt to study outside of Gaza. In 2001, he was accepted to a program at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, near Eilat, but barred from entering Israel. In 2003 he was accepted to a master's program in Germany, but Israel refused to let him leave via the Rafah crossing. Last year, he was accepted for the first time by the British university but barred from leaving. Now, he is trying again. Another petitioner, Alaa Abo-Jasser, who scored 98.6 on her matriculation exams, was accepted to study medicine at Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany. A German language course to prepare her for her studies began at the university in July. Higher educational opportunities in the Gaza Strip are extremely limited. Undergraduate and master's degrees are unavailable in key subjects such as occupational therapy, medicine, speech therapy, dentistry and physiotherapy, according to Gisha. There are no doctoral programs in any subject. Furthermore, Israel bars Gaza Strip students from studying in Israel or the West Bank.

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