New Internet Campaign Breaches the Boundaries of the Closure

· Web surfers in Israel, Gaza and abroad will ask Israeli officials to let Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip reach their studies abroad

· Campaign joins ongoing international protest against trapping students in the Gaza Strip

Sun., August 10, 2008 –  "We haven’t harmed anyone, and only want to contribute to our society. We don’t understand what benefit Israel gains by keeping us trapped here," said Samer Abu Ghali, a Palestinian student from the Gaza Strip, who is trying to reach his Master’s studies in project management in Jordan. Samer appealed to the Israeli and international public, as part of an Internet campaign launched today aimed at persuading Israeli decision-makers to permit students trapped in Gaza to reach their studies abroad.

Hundreds of students from the Gaza Strip have been accepted to universities abroad, but the closure imposed by Israel since June 2007 is preventing them from leaving Gaza and reaching their studies. The campaign is launched by Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, which is providing legal assistance to dozens of the trapped students, asking Israel’s military to allow them to leave Gaza for study abroad. Web surfers can log on to www.trappedingaza.org to send a letter asking Israel’s Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, and Education Minister to let the students from Gaza reach their studies.

The current campaign joins initiatives of student groups and academic associations, peace and policy groups, and human rights organizations throughout the world who have petitioned Israeli decision-makers on behalf of the students trapped in Gaza. Senior foreign officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair have already asked Israel to let the students travel abroad. Israeli officials, including Knesset Education Committee Chair MK Malchior and Supreme Court justices have also asked the government to allow the students to reach their studies. However, hundreds of Palestinian students remain trapped in Gaza, awaiting a change in policy – and their academic deadlines are fast approaching.