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High Court: Gaza student cannot complete studies in West Bank

Amira Hass | Haaretz

9 December 2009

The High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday to deny a Palestinian student from Gaza who has been studying in Bethlehem permission to complete her university degree in the West Bank.

Berlanty Azzam, 22, has been in the West Bank since 2005 and has only two months of studies left in order to complete her Bachelor’s degree in business administration. In late October, however, the Israeli authorities expelled her back to Gaza claiming that that she was illegally staying in the West Bank.

Azzam petitioned against her expulsion with the assistance of Gisha, a legal center for freedom of movement, but the High Court accepted the Israeli authorities’ decision to deny Azzam a chance to remain in the West Bank to continue her education.

The authorities did not claim security charges against Azzam.

Regarding the assertion that she is an illegal alien in the West Bank, Gisha said that she had moved to the region legally with an entrance permit into Israel issued to her by the IDF commander on the scene after a meticulous security check.

The High Court accepted Israel’s claim that Azzam entered the West Bank illegally, due to the fact that the permit entitled her entrance into Jerusalem, not the West Bank.

During the four years she lived and studied in the West Bank, Azzam placed several requests to change her address from Gaza to Bethlehem.

According to the Oslo accord, the Palestinian Authority has the power to change its’ citizen’s addresses in their identity cards, and is only required to notify the Israel authorities.

But ever since the accord was implemented, Israel has refused to accept the PA’s authority to register change of address from Gaza to the West Bank, and has retained a monopoly over the acceptance or denial of an address change request.

Since the year 2000, Israel has also refused to allow Gaza residents to study in the West Bank. It is believed that there are currently over 25,000 Palestinians who were born in Gaza and are currently living in the West Bank, all of whom have been disallowed to change their address on their identification certificates.

Most of them have been living in the West Bank for many years. They have raised their families there, and have been working in the region, but are under the constant threat of expulsion.