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ADC Condemns Collective Punishment of Students in Gaza

Washington, DC | November 21, 2007 | www.adc.org | The American Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today condemned the State of Israel’s policies of collective punishment after a Human Rights Watch (HRW) Report published this week stated “The Israeli government is arbitrarily blocking some 670 students in Gaza from pursuing higher education abroad.” The students make up only 10% of over 6,400 Gaza residents with foreign citizenship, permanent residency, work permits, student visas or university admissions abroad who are waiting for permission to cross the border into Egypt.
The students stuck in Gaza study at universities around the globe. Their education is being interrupted because they cannot leave the occupied strip even though they are not suspected of any wrong doing or suspicious behavior. The HRW report pointed out that Israel remains the occupying power and, under international law, it is responsible to facilitate the free movement of these individuals. Israel, which has near total control of Gaza’s borders, has denied exit permits needed for students to leave for universities in countries including Egypt, Jordan, Germany, Great Britain and the US.
Furthermore the report stated that the restriction on movement of students violates the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which Israel ratified in 1992. This is yet another example of collective punishment of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories by the State of Israel. (Audio of interviews with some students trapped in Gaza can be heard by clicking here.) “Israel seems determined to punish all Gazans, including students, for the behavior of Hamas,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of HRW’s Middle East division, said in a statement. “Israel should not make young people seeking education pay the price for its conflict with a political or military group.”
ADC calls on the Government of Israel to comply with international law, permit the free movement of civilians and cease the collective punishment of civilians under occupation. Further, ADC calls on the US Government to address this troubling issue directly with the State of Israel to permit the free flow of civilians into and out of Gaza and the West Bank.