400 Lecturers Call on Israel to Let Gaza Students Access U’s Abroad

More than 400 academic faculty members in Israel have signed a petition calling on the Israeli government and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to allow students from Gaza to exit the Strip in order to reach their academic institutions abroad.

On the backdrop of Israel’s ongoing prohibition of almost all travel via the Erez Crossing, the petition was initiated and drafted by the board of Gisha – The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha is in parallel inviting academic faculty members from around the world to sign a similar petition in English and Arabic (see below), demanding that Gaza students’ access to higher education be ensured and protected.

Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip

Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip (Photo: Eman Mohammed)

Since March 2020, Israeli authorities have agreed to process exit permit applications of residents of the Gaza Strip in even fewer and rarer circumstances than what was the case previously. Since then only a small number of patients in need of urgent medical treatment and their companions to exit the Strip, along with only a handful of others cases. Among the people impacted by this continued lockdown at Erez are students, including post-graduate students having much sought-after scholarships, who are enrolled at academic institutions abroad requiring in-person attendance.

The petition from academics in Israel states that, “Access to quality higher education is essential in every society. […] We believe that preventing students from Gaza from exiting the Strip because of the coronavirus pandemic, without any security justification, for such a prolonged and indefinite period of time is a wrongful, immoral policy.”

On January 7, Gisha sent a letter on this matter to COGAT, listing the names of eight students who requested urgent assistance from Gisha. The students are all required to arrive at their campuses during the month of January. Last week, Gisha also submitted a petition to the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of a PhD student who needs to exit the Strip to continue her studies in Jordan. According to Gisha, “Access to education is a fundamental right, which Israel is obligated to protect. It must do so now by allowing students from Gaza to travel to their destinations abroad, without further delay.”

To sign Gisha’s petition (in English and Arabic): https://www.drove.com/campaign/6000481c59845e2b424ab236?mc_cid=250ddae239&mc_eid=[83ccb6d2ba]