More than 400 academic faculty members in Israel signed a petition (Hebrew) calling the Israeli government and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to allow students from Gaza to exit the Strip in order to reach their academic institutions abroad. The petition was initiated and drafted by members of Gisha’s board, against the backdrop of Israel’s ongoing prohibition on almost all travel via Erez Crossing. Gisha is inviting academic faculty members from around the world to sign a similar petition in English and Arabic, demanding that students’ access to higher education be ensured and protected.
>Academic faculty? Sign the petition.
Since March 2020, Israeli authorities have agreed to process permit applications in even fewer, rarer circumstances than before, only allowing a small number of patients in need of urgent medical treatment and their companions, and a handful of others, to exit the Strip. Among the people impacted by this continued lockdown at Erez are students, including post-graduate students with sought-after scholarships, enrolled at academic institutions abroad requiring in–person attendance. Before the closure was tightened further in March, students in this situation met Israel’s narrow criteria for travel, one of few exceptions to the sweeping restrictions on movement it enforced well before the pandemic. Rafah Crossing is completely closed.
The petition from academics in Israel states that: “Access to quality higher education is essential in every society. […] We believe that preventing students from Gaza from exiting the Strip because of the coronavirus pandemic, without any security justification, for such a prolonged and indefinite period of time is a wrongful, immoral policy.” On January 7, Gisha sent a letter (Hebrew) on this matter to COGAT, listing the names of eight students who requested urgent assistance from Gisha. The students are all required to arrive at their campuses in January. Last week, Gisha also submitted a petition (Hebrew) to the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of a PhD student who needs to exit the Strip to continue her studies in Jordan.
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Access to education is a fundamental right, which Israel is obligated to protect. It must do so now by allowing students from Gaza to travel to their destinations abroad, without further delay. If you or someone you know are members of academic faculty and would like to join and/or share the petition, see here.