Education International
Education International

Students detained in Gaza

published 5 October 2007 updated 5 October 2007

Education International is deeply concerned by reports that up to 600 students have been denied exit from Gaza despite assurances from the Israeli authorities that they would be allowed to leave.

The students were trapped in Gaza by the closure of the Rafah crossing into Egypt in June as fighting erupted between Fatah and Hamas which ended with Hamas's takeover of the Strip. The Rafah crossing has remained closed.

Until last week, Israel was agreeing to let students out through the northern Erez crossing into Israel and then transporting them to the Nitzana crossing from Israel into Egypt from where they were able to continue international travel.

Last week, however, this procedure was halted and the Israeli security cabinet announced that "restrictions will be ... placed on movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip" as part of its policy of declaring Gaza "hostile territory", following rocket attacks into Israel, and putting further pressure on Hamas.

Restrictions on movement already meant that Palestinian students in Gaza were prevented from taking courses in the West Bank or Israel itself. A more lenient policy towards students on accredited courses abroad had been taken until recently.

The new restrictions mean that students due to recommence studies abroad are likely to forfeit a year as they will be absent for exams and deadlines.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that Israeli closures and roadblocks in the West Bank had increased by 52 per cent to 572 since August 2005, despite repeated calls to reduce them.

Education International implores the Israeli authorities to find a solution to allow these students to continue their studies at their educational institutions.