Israeli Military to High Court: Gaza Students Pose a Threat to Security

Tue., October 31, 2006 – Israel’s Supreme Court heard arguments today, Oct. 31, 2006, on petitions submitted by Gisha in the name of ten students from Gaza who are prohibited from reaching their studies at the University of Bethlehem in the West Bank because of a sweeping ban imposed in 2000 on students traveling from Gaza to the West Bank. The students in Gaza are studying Occupational Therapy via “remote control” – video tapes, Internet discussions and travel to Egypt.

Professor Kenneth Mann, the legal advisor to Gisha, and Atty. Sari Bashi, Gisha’s director, argued in the hearing that the ban must be lifted and that students be allowed to reach their studies in the West Bank, subject to individual security checks.

Gisha Attorney Kenneth Mann: "The military should not prevent Palestinian students from studying at the Palestinian universities set up for their benefit."

Gisha argued that it is particularly harmful to prevent students from learning critically needed professions like occupational therapy, which is desperately needed in Gaza. There are 24,000 disabled residents of Gaza, but there is only one certified working occupational therapist there, and no study program in Gaza.

The state argued that it cannot carry out individual checks on students due to the difficulty involved in collecting information on Gaza residents. The state prosecutor, Haran Reicher, further argued that there is a general phenomenon of attempts to harm state security by residents of Gaza between the ages of 16 and 35.

Gisha demanded that Palestinian students not be denied the right to study and that there is no justification for profiling all Gaza residents as “dangerous”.

The state submitted classified information to the justices on “the general phenomenon” which was mentioned in the hearing.

The justices (Grunis, Jubran, and Arbel) will rule at a later date.