WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration slammed Hamas for keeping Gaza high school students from traveling to the United States on a scholarship program.
"You have Hamas denying these students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an educational and cultural experience outside of Gaza," Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, told reporters Tuesday. "So we join the students, their parents, human rights organization, and many others in calling for the YES students who wish to leave Gaza for this opportunity to be allowed to go."
YES refers to the Youth Exchange Study program; seven Gaza students were due to attend. Hamas banned the students from participating for "social and cultural" reasons.
Israel’s refusal to allow security clearance for three Gaza Fulbright scholars in 2008 prompted international outrage and led Israel to reconsider.