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The Only Democracy? » Discrimination » Gaza Students Can’t Study in Gaza, Can’t Leave

Gaza Students Can’t Study in Gaza, Can’t Leave

From Gisha’s Gaza Gateway

Between March 1 and March 5, 2010, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open, and 4427 people passed through the crossing, including 461 students. Of these students, 100 were returned to Gaza by the Egyptians either because Egypt believed that they would seek to remain in Egypt, or because they were missing the requisite exit documents.

According to the latest information, 502 students are presently seeking to leave the Gaza Strip in order to realize their dreams and study in universities abroad. Yet why do students in Gaza aspire to study outside the Strip? Among the reasons is the fact that in Gaza it is not possible to study certain fields, such as dentistry, occupational therapy, veterinary studies, environment preservation and democracy and human rights. In contrast, degrees in all these areas are available in the West Bank.
Nevertheless, to the best of our knowledge, the number of students that have received permission from Israel to study in the West Bank since 2000 stands at zero. This is due to the imposition by Israel of a sweeping prohibition on students from Gaza traveling to the West Bank in order to study there. Therefore, students from Gaza (who are able) focus on studying at universities abroad.

The Rafah crossing (source: B'Tselem)

Since June 2007, Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the exit of students through the Erez border crossing, establishing strict criteria for the passage of students through Israel on their way to the Allenby border crossing (in Jordan) and from there to their studies overseas. As a result, students are forced to try and exit Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

Since June 2006 and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, the Rafah crossing has been officially closed and has been opened on an ad hoc and irregular basis. This is contrary to the Agreement on Movement and Access concluded in November 2005, according to which the Rafah crossing must be open to the movement of people between Gaza and Egypt.

In total approximately 1600 people, including 502 students who are eager to start their studies abroad, were not able to exit Gaza via the Rafah crossing when it opened at the start of March. They are forced instead to wait until the next time the crossing is opened.

Yet they have no way of knowing when the next time will arrive.

The Rafah crossing- a view from the Egyptian side (source- Oxfam)

The Rafah crossing- a view from the Egyptian side (source: Oxfam)

Written by

JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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