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Israel prevents young Gazan from studying law in West Bank

By Tania Hary

Last Wednesday morning, for just under an hour, Israel’s High Court heard arguments about whether or not five women from Gaza should be able to travel to their studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank. In a watershed moment for Gisha, which has brought no less than three similar cases in its seven years of existence, and for the first time in 12 years since a ban on travel for students between Gaza and the West Bank was first imposed, the court actually instructed the state to reconsider its position. That is, reconsider it for four of the five women.

The typed-up interim decision of the court, which we received a day later, reads:

After hearing arguments, it seems to us correct to determine that the respondents will reconsider their position, and especially as regards petitioners 1-4 (because of their age).

Especially as regards petitioners 1-4. What about number 5? Suspending disbelief for a moment and imagining that the state were actually also going to consider weighing anew the case of petitioner number 5, the following is a non-lawyer’s plea on her behalf.

Loujain. Seeking a degree in law from Birzeit University

Petitioner number 5 has a name, Loujain. She is 18 years old and is currently enrolled in a law program at Al Azhar University in the Gaza Strip, after the army rejected her permit request to travel to the West Bank to study at Birzeit – not on security grounds but because of the general ban on student travel. Loujain was accepted to Birzeit, which has the best law program in the Palestinian territory, after earning an impressive score of 97.8 on her high school matriculation exam.

When she was still just 17 years old, Loujain came to Gisha for assistance, seeking to challenge a 12-year ban on travel. She was determined to attend the best program she could, following in her mother’s footsteps. She allowed us to use her real name when speaking to the press and to those who might have influence on the decision-making process in Israel, and agreed to be featured in an article in Haaretz.

While it is true that Loujain is younger and less exceptional than the other four petitioners, who are all established in their careers and prominent civil society leaders in Gaza, and while it’s true that there is a law program offered in Gaza, I have yet to hear a convincing argument for why Loujain shouldn’t be able to study in Birzeit. After all, the state has acknowledged that she poses no security threat and the court has now acknowledged that there is a reason to consider allowing students to travel to their studies. I remind the reader that the consideration isn’t about travel through Israeli territory, but rather about the presence of a Gazan student in the West Bank.

Despite not having heard a convincing argument, I do know why the state won’t reconsider its position with regard to Loujain. It’s because in Gaza there are many young people who may want to study in the West Bank, and allowing Loujain to do so might lead others to try to follow her example. And soon enough, we might have universities overflowing with people…. studying. In fact, before the year 2000, about 1,000 students per year were going to the West Bank every year… to study.

No one can or should deny that there are complicated security challenges in this region, or that young people, statistically, account for a large portion of these challenges. This is one of the arguments presented by the state. However, the state forgets that the vast majority of young people, in Gaza and elsewhere, are not a threat. On the contrary, in fact – they are tomorrow’s leaders and the best asset the region has to building a better future. Loujain is poised to be such a leader. She is courageous, bright and committed. She should be able to get the best education possible at the university of her choosing. Investing in Loujain and young people like her is an investment for us all.

I hope the state reconsiders its position, also with regard to petitioner number five.

Tania Hary is the director of international relations at Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. This post was originally published on Gaza Gateway, Gisha’s blog. Gisha is an Israeli non-profit organization founded in 2005 whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents. 

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    1. aristeides

      Israel is desperate to avoid precedents that might lead to requiring justice. The villagers of Ikrit and Biram aren’t allowed to return to their homes, despite court rulings that their expulsion and replacement by Jews was illegal. Because then everyone else would want justice. And we can’t have that.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Rehmat

      Well if the Zionist regime can ban Dr. Noam Chomsky from visiting Birzeit University – why should it allow students from Gaza to study at Birzeit University and later help Hamas to govern Gaza? After all – Israel Hasbara has already convinced the western dupes that Hamas hate Jews, gays/lesbian, and everything which “modern”.


      Reply to Comment
    3. AYLA

      Thank you, TH. Now, what should we do? Is there a petition we can sign? A particular person to write to or call (please provide details). Although some readers here seem to enjoy being self-righteous against Israel or coming to Israel’s defense (just because), most people out here who care would appreciate being directed regarding how to help. Thanks!

      Reply to Comment
    4. annie

      most people out here who care would appreciate being directed regarding how to help. Thanks!

      why would you think there was anyway you could help? there’s no way to help ayala but your sentiments sound nice.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Rehmat

      Caliphate dear – Don’t forget Saudi Arabia by spreading Wahhabism among Muslim societies is also protecting the US and Israeli interests. Saudi Arabia is world’s biggestest arms buyer from the US and England – worth over $300 billion. It’s fighting US-Israel proxy wars in Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Kosova, Iraq, Gaza and several other places.

      After all, Saudi ‘royals’ do belong to an Iraqi Jewish tribe.

      Wahhabism is universal. It has its roots in Judaism too. It’s reported that when Rabbi Shlomo Riskin was looking for a rosh yeshiva (a dean) for a yeshiva he was starting. He interviewed ten Talmudic scholars for the post. He asked the same question to each of them: “Suppose you ordered an electric shaver from a store owned by non-Jews, and by accident the store sent you two shavers. Would you return the second shaver?”. Nine passed the test by saying, “they would not” and one failed who said he would. The nine passed because their answer was based on halachah (Jewish Shria) which allows a Jew to profit from a non-Jew’s business error.


      Reply to Comment
    6. caden

      Ayala, Annie is prominent on a site that refers to jews has ticks, rats, and dogs. You should know that. And Rehmat is a holocaust denier

      Reply to Comment
    7. annie

      is there no limit to what people can say here? are posters allowed to lie and makeup stuff up and slander others with fabricated accusations.
      it is not worth it.
      water seeks it’s own level.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      Moderation here is arbitrary. Sometimes nonexistent, other times punitive and retaliatory.

      Reply to Comment
    9. caden

      This comment was deleted for offensive content. Please consider this a warning. If you continue we will have to ban you.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Annie, you may recall that I was driven away from Mondoweiss by someone who systematically engaged in insults and ridicule of me unrelated to what I was posting comments about. His name was ‘Mooser’. I am still under moderation there because I dared to argue back. I seldom return there now.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mitchell Cohen

      Rehmat, I can smell your manure in your post about Rabbi Shlomo Riskin further than I can smell the odor of a skunk. He is the Rabbi of my community and he would not poskin like that, let alone make that the deal breaking question for being employed with his yeshiva. The only “source” you give for such garbage is your own blog, which when you go to offers no other source. Stop lying you little *&^%$!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    12. This reminded me of the case of Berlanty Azzam, a Bethlehem University student who was taken back to Gaza blindfolded and in shackles after checkpoint soldiers discovered she didn’t have a West Bank ID card. Gisha and Amnesty were both working on her case, but without success – she had to complete her course by e-mail and phone, and a graduation ceremony of sorts was held for her in Holy Family Church in Gaza. I hope that Loujain has more luck.
      Last night I was talking to a friend in Gaza City, who is going to London for his Master’s degree. This will be his first opportunity to get to know Palestinians from the West Bank and within the Green Line, which he’s very excited about. It’s been difficult for him to raise the money necessary to go London, and for a while I doubted he’d manage it, but ultimately studying two thousand miles away is far easier than getting permission to go to the West Bank would be. The movement restrictions on Palestinian students cast stark light on the way in which the occupation has broken Palestinian society as a whole into fragments.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Piotr Berman

      This is the essence of Apartheid: keep people apart for the sake of keeping them apart.

      Caden: try to spell Ayla correctly, and avoid other factual mistakes.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Alan

      “Annie, you may recall that I was driven away from Mondoweiss by someone who systematically engaged in insults and ridicule of me unrelated to what I was posting comments about. His name was ‘Mooser’. I am still under moderation there because I dared to argue back.”

      Rowan– Mondoweiss doesn’t ban an anti-Semitic nut-job like Joachim Martillio, but they ban you!?!? Ouch!

      Reply to Comment
    15. Piotr Berman

      “Suppose you ordered an electric shaver from a store owned by non-Jews, and by accident the store sent you two shavers. Would you return the second shaver?”

      This is ridiculous. I would not return the second one, period. Who owns Amazon anyway? And should the settlers shave? There are much better real stories. A rabbinical court in Israel ordered a Haredi businessman to honor an oral agreement with another businessman and pay a promised amount of money. Then there was some stink, the guy did not want to pay and made the proceedings public. The agreement was to pay a kickback in the case of successful rigging for a contract with the State of Israel, and thus it was illegal according to the laws of the state, but, apparently, not according to the laws of Halacha.

      The story about House of Saud being Jewish has some antiquity and wide circulation among non-Salafi Sunnis. By the way of contrast, Shia website prefer more solid argument, apparently the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that evil (strife? division?) will come from Najd.

      Reply to Comment
    16. AYLA

      TH–I hope you see this. Thanks so much for the information; I’m on my way (and yes, a citizen).

      Reply to Comment