Students protest at Gaza blockade

Other News Materials 10 October 2007 08:26

( BBC ) - Palestinian university students unable to leave Gaza to continue their studies abroad have held a demonstration to try to bring attention to their plight.

The Gaza Strip has been all but cut off from the outside world since June, when the Islamist militant group, Hamas, seized control of the territory.

Palestinian officials have said Israel is issuing permits to students only sporadically and after long delays.

Israel's foreign ministry has said the permit "problems" will be solved soon.

It is now exactly four months since Israel closed Gaza's borders.

Humanitarian aid, mainly in the form of food and medicines is still getting in, but otherwise, there is no freedom of movement for goods or people entering or leaving the territory.

Israel wants to isolate Hamas, the Islamist group that so violently took control of Gaza.

But hundreds of thousands of ordinary Palestinians are suffering as a consequence, among them students who normally study outside the confines Gaza - at universities around the world.

A month ago, Israel allowed four bus-loads of students to leave, but hundreds more remain and are not being allowed out

Some gathered in Gaza City on Tuesday to protest.

"This was supposed to be my first year at university in Egypt," one student at the demonstration said. "I tried to leave by the checkpoint but the Israelis sent me back."

"I'm appealing to the politicians and the international community to help us with our problem."

Another student said everyone just wanted to find a solution to the crisis.

"I need the checkpoints to be opened, but I'm pessimistic," he said. "The situation here is so strange and tough I can't imagine what my future will be."

Israeli human rights groups have now taken up the cause of the students and say they will take their cases to Israel's Supreme Court.