Students from Gaza: Disregarded Victims of Israel's Siege of the Gaza Strip - A Report on Israel's Prevention of Gazan Students from Studying at the West Bank Universities
The Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) educational system is an integrated national system that has been designed to meet the educational needs of Palestinian students in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Accordingly, the various Palestinian universities have, over the years, developed particular specializations. Thus, specializations that are available in the Gaza Strip may not be available in West Bank universities and vice versa. The close geographical proximity of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has always facilitated the education system in the oPt. In the absence of Israeli movement and access barriers, Gazan students can, for example, reach a university in Ramallah City in the West Bank by car in approximately one hour. As some major fields of study are not available in Gazan universities, thousands of Gazan students, particularly those who seek to obtain post-graduate degrees in medicine, dentistry, veterinary studies, radiology, medical engineering, environment protection, law and democracy, and human rights used to travel to the West Bank to study there.
Since the beginning of the second Intifada, which started in the oPt in the year 2000, Israel has imposed increasingly tight restrictions on movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These movement restrictions include the imposition of a blanket ban on Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip enrolling at Palestinian universities in the West Bank to continue their education. This ban is not based on security needs - which if certain conditions are met can be legitimate in the context of belligerent occupation and armed conflict- - but rather on belonging to a specific 'category' of persons. That is, students are preventing from accessing the West Bank because they are students.
This policy of prohibiting students from the Gaza Strip from studying in the West Bank is an arbitrary policy. It is part of a wider policy of restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people into and out of the Gaza Strip and as such, it constitutes a policy of collective punishment. Students from Gaza who are accepted at West Bank universities cannot leave the Gaza Strip via Erez crossing without applying to the Israeli security authorities to obtain permission. Applications are always examined by the General Security Service (GSS or "Shabak"). At current, all applications from students in Gaza who wish to study in the West Bank are rejected by the Israeli authorities.