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Press Release, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 23 October 2004
PCHR remains gravely concerned that hundreds of students from the Gaza Strip have not been able to travel to attend their universities abroad, due to the prohibition on travel of Palestinians who are aged between 18 and 35 by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF). This prohibition violates the right to education. PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to ensure the compliance of IOF to international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and that they allow these students to travel to attend their universities.
According to information available to PCHR, at least 1500 university students from the Gaza Strip have been prevented from traveling to Arab and foreign countries through Rafah Terminal on the Palestinian-Egyptian border to attend their universities. Since 16 April 2004, IOF have prevented Palestinians who are between 16 and 35 from traveling through Rafah Terminal, thus depriving approximately 13% of the total population of the Gaza Strip of their right to freedom of movement, and violating a set of their political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. These students have been forced to spend days at the Palestinian side of the terminal, hoping that they would be allowed to travel. Although IOF, which control the Rafah Terminal, allowed nearly 35 students of this category of age to travel, following prolonged coordination efforts through the Palestinian liaison, hundreds of other students are still waiting to be permitted to travel and attend their universities like other university students throughout the world.
PCHR condemns the policy of collective punishment and reprisals practiced by IOF against the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949. PCHR calls upon the international community to ensure the rights of individuals to freedom of movement and to education. PCHR particularly calls upon UNESCO to intervene with IOF to allow all Palestinian students to travel freely and safely to attend their universities.