Gaza’s 5 years lost: Education on hold for Gaza’s University students
Thirteen years ago, Gaza student Andaleeb Adwan started her Master degree in Gender Studies from the University of Birzeit in the West Bank.
Today, she is yet to complete it.
It’s nor slowness, neither weak academic skills that explains the stalemate of her academic path.
Rather, Andaleeb’s Gender education has been put on hold from 2000 onwards, following an Israeli decision that imposed a blanket ban preventing students and professors from Gaza to study in the West Bank.
“I completed a third of the total courses in the summer 1999, before the ban entered in force”, said Andaleeb, “and I have not been to resume the classes ever since.
” Unlike other frequent cases where Israeli authorities denied permission outside the Gaza Strip, claiming it does so based on security reasons; security officials never made allegations that Andaleeb poses any threat to Israel’s security.
She actually travelled to the West Bank several times over the past years.
But that was never enough to resume her studies.
“I specifically wished to study Gender matters, as I believe it could benefit the Gazan society as a whole” says Andaleeb.
“If other women would have been able to study Gender in the West Bank, it would have had a great impact on the feminist movement, and perhaps encouraged others, and leading to an improvement of the legal status of women in Gaza”, she regrets.
The curriculum Andaleeb selected is not available in Gaza.
“The higher education system in Palestine was conceived as unitary, assuming that students would always move between cities for study.
But that was before the closure policy”, explains Mahmoud Abu Rahma from Al Mezan Human Rights Centre in Gaza which provides legal advice to students in her case.
“Today, certain courses are only available at West Bank universities and others only in the Gaza Strip, meaning that students cannot freely choose what they want to study due to the Israeli ban on academic travel.
” Along with four female students, Andaleeb filed a lawsuit in the Israeli Supreme Court.
She aims to challenge the policy that arbitrarily deprives Gazan students of their right to education and freedom of movement, and open the door to the next generation.
On 23 May 2012, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Israeli army to reconsider the ban on the entry of Gazan students into the West Bank and issue a decision within 45 days.
Background: Since 2000, Israel has imposed a blanket ban on students and professors from Gaza studying at or even visiting universities in the West Bank.
The ban is applied despite a 2007 recommendation by the Israeli Supreme Court that allows Gazan students to study in the West Bank, in situations where their studies are likely to have positive human implications.
This has had serious negative consequences for the youth in Gaza, as well as universities, the academic sector, and Palestinian society as a whole.
The official Israeli policy, in place since 2000, at issue in the lawsuit dictates the denial of Gaza Strip students’ permits to enter the West Bank to attend Palestinian universities.
To known more about the case of Gaza university students: Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza (Diakonia partner organisation in Gaza) Mahmoud Abu Rahma [email protected]