Safe Passage

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Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you in order to express my deep concern about the ongoing violation of the right of Palestinian students living in the Gaza Strip to travel the West Bank to participate in academic study programs for which they have been accepted.
Since 2000, applications by students from Gaza to move to the West Bank in order to pursue a higher education have been universally rejected, without individualized investigations of each application.
Students in the West Bank have access to almost double the number of universities and lecturers compared to those available to students in the Strip. Academic programs that do not exist in Gaza include: dentistry, occupational therapy, medical engineering, veterinary medicine, environmental protection, democracy and human rights, and advanced degrees in a wide range of fields, including a doctorate in chemistry.
In the summer of 2007, following a petition filed by Gisha to the High Court of Justice on behalf of 10 occupational therapy students, the court ruled that the army must prepare a mechanism “that will deal on an individualized basis with cases regarding which positive humanitarian implications are known.” Despite this ruling, to the best of my knowledge, not one student from Gaza has been allowed to move to the West Bank to study.
The ban on the travel of students to the West Bank frustrates the aspirations of talented young people and impedes the development of both a flourishing academic community and a stable civil society in Gaza. Moreover, the ban creates a shortage of essential services in Gaza, such as medical, therapeutic and mental health services.
I call on you to revoke the sweeping ban on the travel of students from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to study, and ask that you investigate each student’s application to move to the West Bank to study on an individualized basis. Respecting the right of students from Gaza to freedom of movement will lay a foundation for a brighter future for Palestinians and Israelis, a future based on mutual respect and safeguarding of human rights.

Sincerely,

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