Call for End to Gaza Lockdown

A European Parliament delegation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) has called for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem on 2 June, the group of 14 MPs said the shortages of medicines, fuel and food supplies in the enclave resulted in "unacceptable human misery, which, in turn, will generate future violence".

The delegates called for an end to the "geographical and political isolation of the Gaza Strip", which has been in effect since Hamas took over the enclave almost one year ago.

Israeli High Court Justice Elyakim Rubenstein also questioned the government policy of imposing the especially tight travel restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

During a hearing concerning students who wished to study abroad, Rubenstein said the ban was harming chances of future co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.

"We have to live with them in the future," he said, according to lawyers for the students who attended the session, questioning the move.

However, both the cases of Nabil Nayef, 27, who wants to study for a doctorate in computer engineering in Germany, and Wissam Abuajwa, who hopes to study environmental sciences in the UK, remain pending.

Nayef said her case was urgent as classes have already begun.

Hundreds of other students have already missed out on their chances, though the US said it would push to get its seven Fulbright scholars out of the enclave. According to the Israeli human rights group Gisha four of the Fulbright students were allowed out of Gaza on the afternoon of 4 June to attend their visa interviews at the US consulate in East Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week she was "surprised" by the decision not to let the students out, saying that young people needed to be able to study for there to be a viable Palestinian state in the future.

"Washington should ask Israel to ensure that the hundreds of other students trapped in Gaza can also pursue their studies abroad," Sarah Leah Whitson from Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a 3 June statement.

"Israel should let all students in Gaza who want to study abroad do so, except where there are legitimate security concerns specific to particular individuals," HRW, with the Middle East Studies Association and the American Anthropological Association, said.

(IRIN News)

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