Israeli High Court Declines to Intervene in Military Policy Trapping U.K. Student in Gaza

Khaled Mudallal is one of hundreds of students trapped in Gaza and at risk of losing his place at university.

Tue., October 2, 2007 –  Today, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition from a talented student and his bride trapped in Gaza and unable to reach his studies at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. The court accepted the military’s policy allowing just a few dozen people to leave Gaza in intermittent “shuttle buses” – even though thousands need to reach schools and jobs abroad.

The student, Khaled Mudallal, trapped in Gaza for four months, risks losing his place in the business program of the University of Bradford. His classes began yesterday. Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement petitioned the court on his behalf.

Bradford University students are holding a rally today in support of Khaled’s right to return to his studies.

At today’s court hearing, the three-justice panel accepted the military’s position that Khaled would be allowed out of Gaza, if and when “shuttle buses” allowing limited numbers of Gaza residents to leave via the Erez Crossing with Israel are renewed – and if there is room on the buses. No one has left Gaza via the buses since September 6.

Gisha argued that Israel has an obligation to allow Khaled to leave Gaza and to reach his studies, and that sporadic shuttle buses are inadequate. Since June, only 450 people have been allowed to leave Gaza on the buses – even though an estimated 5,000 people need to leave for schools and jobs abroad.

Khaled is one of hundreds of students prevented from studying abroad by the closure of Gaza’s borders. Israel, which does not let people leave or enter Gaza via ship or airplane, also exercises substantial control over Gaza’s border with Egypt and has participated in keeping it closed since June 9, just before Hamas took over internal control of Gaza.

“I only ask for my right to return to university,” said the student Khaled Mudallal. “I want to continue studying. I want to graduate.”

“There is no justification for allowing just a few dozen people to leave Gaza – when thousands are trapped,” said Sari Bashi, Director of Gisha. “Preventing Khaled – and other students– from reaching their studies violates their basic rights to freedom of movement and access to education”.Bashi said that Gisha will now challenge the “quota” restricting exit from the Gaza Strip.