JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 800 Gaza Palestinians have been unable to leave the coastal strip for university study abroad, an Israeli legal center says.
The academic year has started, but 838 students are still waiting for exit permits from Israel, according to Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.
Some 1,145 students have left through the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, and another 69 received permits to exit from the Erez crossing into Israel, according to Gisha, citing figures from the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza.
The rest either do not meet Israel’s criteria, which includes having a diplomatic escort, or have not been able to get out through the Rafah crossing, which only opens infrequently.
Responding to Gisha’s claims, Israel’s Civil Administration told Ynet that "The policy of allowing scholarship recipients from Gaza is derived from the government’s overall policy regarding the Strip. Israel is under no legal obligation to allow Palestinian students to cross into it for the mere sake of traveling abroad to school. Nevertheless, it was recently decided to ease such departures and some 200 scholarship recipients have left Gaza since 2008."