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Israel forcibly removed four Palestinian students from their studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank and illegally deported them to the Gaza Strip last November. The four Gazan students were not accused of any offence and their forced expulsion is being seen as part of Israel’s plan to impose a final separation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Students Appeal, launched by the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University, has growing international support from parliamentarians, human rights organizations, trade unions, and over 1000 letters and signatures from academics, students and other concerned individuals around the world.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education has called on the international community “to end the segregation policy against Gaza students which denies them the right to education and access to eight Palestinian universities in the West Bank”.
British MPs are signing an Early Day Motion in the UK Parliament, expressing their concern that the “illegal separation of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip exacerbates the existing barriers to Palestinian education and development”. The motion calls on the UK Government “to insist that the Government of Israel adheres to its legal obligations to allow unimpeded access for all Palestinians to their educational institutions”.
On 4 March 2005, over 150 Israeli academics and students published an open letter in the Israeli national newspaper, HaÂ’aretz, demanding the unconditional return of the four deported students to Birzeit University, and an end to the continuing restrictions on movement and “bantustanization” of Palestinian areas by the Israeli occupation, which prevent students from reaching their educational institutions.
In 2000, there were some 350 Gazan students at Birzeit University, today there are only 35. As a result of frequent closures of cities, hundreds of military roadblocks and the construction of the illegal wall inside the West Bank, the number of new Birzeit students coming from Jenin in the northern West Bank also declined by 100% in 2004.
A prominent supporter of the campaign, Prof. Eric Hobsbawm, President of Birkbeck College, University of London, personally wrote to the Israeli military authorities:
“I would like to protest against measures of this kind, both as a Jew and as a member of the international academic community. It is important that the major university in the West Bank should be allowed to go about its business of educating students and that no arbitrary obstacles should be placed in the already difficult way of young Palestinians pursuing an education”.
Please respond to our Urgent Appeal to Demand the Return of Gaza Students to Birzeit University
For more information please contact:
Right to Education Campaign
Birzeit University, Telefax: +972 2 298 2059