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Gazan Students Trapped as Israel Withholds Visas

Researched by Elizabeth Vortman and Ashley McLoud

More than 400 would-be university students remain trapped in the Gaza, unable to leave for studies abroad. Since Hamas won elections in Gaza more than a year ago, Israel has sought to isolate the territory and its 1.5 million people, limiting fuel, food, and other supplies while sharply restricting the movement of people in or out of the narrow coastal strip. To heighten awareness of the issue among Israelis, Gisha recently prepared a series of three radio spots, in which famous Israelis call on the government to reverse itself and allow the students to leave. But the Israel Broadcasting Authority – a government body that operates several TV channels as well as seven radio stations – refused to accept the ads, citing a provision in its charter that prohibits the airing of controversial material. “There’s a clause in the broadcasting authority’s rules that allows them to refuse a paid ad if the issue is `politically or ideologically controversial,’” said Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, an Israeli organization advocating freedom of movement for Palestinians. “But it’s not a controversial statement to say that everybody, including Gazans, deserves an education.”

“Gazan Students Trapped As Israel Withholds Visas” Oakland Ross, The Toronto Star, 9/12/08http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/12-5

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