court gavel 88.
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The High Court of Justice has given a Palestinian who comes from the Gaza Strip but has lived illegally in Abu Dis for seven years to study medicine five days to respond to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) allegations that he is a member of the outlawed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The student, Ahmed al-Najar, 24, moved from Gaza to the West Bank in 1999 to study medicine at the only Palestinian medical school in the West Bank and Gaza, at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis.
However, the Palestinian Authority refused to change his permanent address from Gaza to the West Bank, and he has been living in Abu Dis illegally ever since.
Since the intifada in 2000, Israel has barred most Palestinians living in Gaza from traveling to the West Bank, and has been trying to deport from the area those whose identity cards state that their home address is in Gaza.
Najar ran into further trouble last year, when the medical school sent him for training in orthopedics at the Mokassed Hospital in east Jerusalem, the only Palestinian hospital that provides such training. Israeli authorities turned down the medical school's request on his behalf for an entry permit to east Jerusalem on the grounds that Najar was a Gaza resident and had to return to Gaza and apply from there. When the Physicians for Human Rights organization intervened on his behalf and asked the Military Government to promise that he would be allowed back to Abu Dis if he returned to Gaza, the army refused.
Najar continued to sneak into east Jerusalem. After he was arrested several times by security forces, the human rights organization Gisha petitioned the High Court asking the state to explain why Najar could not study at the hospital and why it did not recognize him as living in the West Bank.
Earlier this week, the High Court met for the second time to discuss the petition. Behind closed doors, the Shin Bet presented the justices with classified information alleging that Najar posed a security threat.
However, the court apparently did not accept the evidence at face value. Justices Miriam Naor, Elyakim Rubinstein and Dvora Berliner gave the petitioners five days to respond to the accusation that Najar was a member of the PFLP, and another five days for the state to submit its complementary brief.
During the hearing, Gisha legal adviser Kenneth Mann told the court that Israel was obliged to enable Palestinians to receive a proper medical education, including in subjects such as orthopedics.