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21 year old Berlanty Azzam was detained at a military checkpoint, blindfolded and then deported to Gaza on Monday 2nd November.
Azzam had been returning to Bethlehem after attending a job interview in Ramallah when she was detained on account of her Gaza-registeted ID. Whilst being held at the checkpoint, Azzam was told by soldiers that she would be taken to a detention facility until a petition to the Supreme Court by human rights organisation Gisha was resolved.
Despite such promises, Azzam was blindfolded, handcuffed and loaded into a military jeep, only to find herself left in Gaza late last night. The military refuses to let her return to the West Bank. Born in Gaza, Azzam has lived in Bethlehem since 2005, after being awarded an exit visa and a scholarship to study Business Administration at Bethlehem University. A second Gaza resident who was travelling in the same car as Azzam was also arrested and remains in detention.
Israel’s military released a statement to the US news network CNN saying Azzam was “residing illegally” in the West Bank. Israel bans Palestinian residents of Gaza from studying at Palestinian universities in the West Bank, denying individuals such as Azzam the right to remain in the West Bank. Her deportation comes at a time of increased efforts by the Israeli military to forcibly remove Palestinians with ID cards that are registered in Gaza from the West Bank.
In 2000 there were 350 Gaza students at Birzeit University, many were deported, others stayed in the West Bank ‘illegally’ and risk being deported at any moment. By 2005 there were only 35 Gaza students in Birzeit. Today there are none.
The R2E Campaign strongly condemns the treatment that Azzam has received at the hands of the Israeli forces. Her deportation, simply for attempting to pursue her education in her home country, constitutes a severe violation of academic freedom. We call on all our supporters to contact their local government representatives, Israeli embassies and the Israeli Ministry for the Interior to protest the denial of Berlanty, and all students from Gaza, the Right to Study in the West Bank. We also call on our supporters to contact their local government representatives to demand a stronger stand from their governments on the issue of Palestinian right to education.
Please see the following contacts below:
Minister of Defence,
Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan Street,
Tel Aviv 61909,
Fax: 00 972 3 691 6940
Gideon Saar (Mr)
Minister of Education,
Ministry of Education ,
PO Box 292,
34 Shivtei Israel,
Fax: 00 972 2 560 2223
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