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For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. To mark the fifth anniversary of the tightening of the blockade of the Strip, Diakonia, as part of a broader network of 50 international charities and United Nations Agencies say with one voice: "end the blockade now!”
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5 Years Lost in Gaza
Everyone in the world wishes they had done more with their lives over the years, but not everyone has a blockade standing in their way.
For the past 5 years, more than 1.6 million people in Gaza have been sealed in to 140 square miles, and big dreams have nowhere to go.
As dreams for a better life remain frozen, the quality of life has also declined. The blockade has had a disproportionate effect on civilians in Gaza. Severe restrictions on imports and exports have crippled Gaza’s economy and people only too willing and able cannot find work. Aid dependency has grown as the private sector has all but shut down. The quality and availability of essential services has also declined under the blockade, and severe obstacles on movement and access prevent many people from travelling abroad to seek health care or education and employment opportunities.
Half of Gaza’s population is under 18 years of age. Many have never traveled outside of Gaza. They are nurturing frustration as they lack the opportunity and hope for a positive future. Instead of fulfilling their dreams, much of Gaza’s youth today feel they have little to look forward to.
Gaza’s blockade is also about wasted time, loss and longing, and aspirations unfulfilled, which are universal themes that speak to the human emotions in us all. In order for people in Gaza to live with dignity and self sufficiency, the blockade must end.
Gaza’s 5 years lost: Education on hold for Gaza’s University students
Thirteen years ago, Gaza student Andaleeb Adwan started her Master degree in Gender Studies from the University of Birzeit in the West Bank. Today, she is yet to complete it.
“I completed a third of the total courses in the summer 1999, before the ban entered in force”, said Andaleeb, “and I have not been to resume the classes ever since.” Unlike other frequent cases where Israeli authorities denied permission outside the Gaza Strip, claiming it does so based on security reasons; security officials never made allegations that Andaleeb poses any threat to Israel’s security. She actually travelled to the West Bank several times over the past years. But that was never enough to resume her studies.
“I specifically wished to study Gender matters, as I believe it could benefit the Gazan society as a whole” says Andaleeb. “If other women would have been able to study Gender in the West Bank, it would have had a great impact on the feminist movement, and perhaps encouraged others, and leading to an improvement of the legal status of women in Gaza”, she regrets.
The curriculum Andaleeb selected is not available in Gaza. “The higher education system in Palestine was conceived as unitary, assuming that students would always move between cities for study. But that was before the closure policy”, explains Mahmoud Abu Rahma from Al Mezan Human Rights Centre in Gaza which provides legal advice to students in her case. “Today, certain courses are only available at West Bank universities and others only in the Gaza Strip, meaning that students cannot freely choose what they want to study due to the Israeli ban on academic travel.”
Along with four female students, Andaleeb filed a lawsuit in the Israeli Supreme Court. She aims to challenge the policy that arbitrarily deprives Gazan students of their right to education and freedom of movement, and open the door to the next generation. On 23 May 2012, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Israeli army to reconsider the ban on the entry of Gazan students into the West Bank and issue a decision within 45 days.
Since 2000, Israel has imposed a blanket ban on students and professors from Gaza studying at or even visiting universities in the West Bank. The ban is applied despite a 2007 recommendation by the Israeli Supreme Court that allows Gazan students to study in the West Bank, in situations where their studies are likely to have positive human implications.
Khaleel Zaanin is irrigating eggplants, peppers, and potatoes on what is left of his land, about 7.5 acres, just one km from the "buffer zone" between Israel and Gaza. Copyright: Oxfam.
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