Israeli High Court Orders Army Not to Deport West Bank Medical Student to Gaza

Fri., December 16, 2005 – Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a temporary restraining order preventing the army and police from bringing M, a medical student studying in Abu Dis, from the West Bank to Gaza against his will. The court also ordered a hearing soon over M’s request to receive a permit that will allow him to participate in clinical studies in an east Jerusalem hospital which serves Palestinian residents of the occupied territories.

M, 23, petitioned the Court through Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights. He left his home in the Gaza Strip in 1999 to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. With the outbreak of the Intefadeh in 2000, the army banned travel by students between Gaza and the West Bank and is trying to prohibit Palestinians from the Gaza Strip from living in the West Bank. That policy prevents Gaza’s young people from receiving medical training, because there is no medical school in all of Gaza.

In international agreements and in a position presented before the High Court of Justice, Israel recognized the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit. However, in apparent violation of international and Israeli law, the army has begun a campaign to arrest Palestinians whose registered address is in Gaza but who live in the West Bank, and to bring them to Gaza against their will. In addition, the army refuses to record address changes for Palestinians who have moved from Gaza to the West Bank.

M traveled to the Gaza Strip legally, using the "safe passage", and the state has not claimed that he poses a security threat. However, like many others who were born in Gaza or grew up there, M lives in hiding, avoiding soldiers and checkpoints within the West Bank, lest he be taken to Gaza by force. When M requested a permit to allow him to participate in clinical studies in a hospital in east Jerusalem, he was told that he must return to Gaza immediately – which would force him to give up his medical studies in the West Bank.

In its order, the Court barred the state from bringing M to Gaza and ordered the state to explain its refusal to grant the permit that would allow M to reach his studies in the hospital.

According to M: "For years, I dreamed of becoming a doctor and of treating people as human beings, without regard to religion or nationality. All I want is to be allowed to complete my studies and to reach the patients in the hospital."

According to Para. 89 of the petition: "Life goes on, even under conditions of occupation … the military government’s refusal to recognize the fact that a young person has gone to study and live in another place cannot take away his legally protected right to remain in his new home, without fear of being uprooted."