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Human rights lawyer in Gaza to Baroness Catherine Ashton: Use your power to assist students from Gaza to reach their studies in the West Bank

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18 July 2010

News Release - For immediate release - Sunday, July 18, 2010   Ms.
Fatma Sharif, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights’ lawyer from Gaza seeking to reach her Master’s studies in human rights and democracy in the West Bank, delivered a letter today to the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, who visited the Gaza Strip today, asking her to intervene in the sweeping ban imposed by Israel since 2000 on the passage of students from Gaza to the West Bank for the purposes of reaching academic studies.
During her visit to Gaza today, Baroness Ashton reiterated the position of the European Union that people should be able to move freely.
  'I am appealing to you to use all the power and leverage you have to intervene in this situation.
This is the same situation for thousands of Palestinian students who have been longing to benefit from the high quality of education available within their own country; education that is greatly needed for the development of the Gaza Strip and a future Palestine', wrote Ms.
  Two weeks ago, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition submitted by Gisha on behalf of Ms.
Sharif when the judges decided not to intervene in Israel's policy.
The state informed the court that even under its “new” Gaza policy, there would not be an easing of restrictions on the passage of people to and from Gaza and that Israel will continue to permit travel only in “humanitarian and exceptional” cases, mainly relating to medical needs.
Sharif, who studied law in Gaza, currently works as a lawyer at the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, a non-partisan organization whose goal is to promote human rights and democracy in the Gaza Strip.
Sharif enrolled in studies at Birzeit University, with the intention of returning to Gaza at the end of her studies, where she has a job waiting for her at Al Mezan.
  To read the letter written by Ms.
Sharif to Baroness Ashton, click here.
  For an updated information sheet by Gisha on what has changed – and not changed – in the movement of people into and out of Gaza, click here.
For a fact sheet on the damage to higher Palestinian education as a result of the separation between Gaza and the West Bank, click here.
For 'Safe Passage', a new computer game that allows the player to interactively experience the travel restrictions between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, go to www.
  For further information and to coordinate interviews: Mr.
Mahmoud AbuRahma, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights – Gaza, +970 599 609 310, mahmoud@mezan.
org Keren Tamir, Gisha Spokesperson: +972-3-6244120, +972-52-8919190, keren@gisha.