Berlanty Azzam
Photo: AFP
Expelled Palestinian student's petition to finish school denied
High Court rules Berlanty Azzam cannot return to West Bank to finish her university degree, adding ruling in her favor would be biased towards other Gaza students whose petitions were denied

Berlanty Azzam, the 22-year-old Palestinian student who petitioned the High Court to allow her to return to the West Bank city of Bethlehem in order to finish university, will not be able to do so, a three-judge panel ruled Wednesday.


Azzam was expelled from the West Bank after a routine examination of her identification papers at an IDF checkpoint in late October, revealed that she was listed as a resident of Gaza. The army said that she had resided in the West Bank illegally while misleading authorities.


The court said that while it was regrettable that Azzam would be unable to complete her degree, which is just three credits away, it could not dismiss the fact the she had resided in the West Bank illegally for four years.


Furthermore, the court ruled she was in breach of the pass given to her at the time, to cross between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, since it clearly stipulated she was allowed to enter the West Bank for religious purposes only.


At the time, said the judges, Azzam did not have a student pass, "Leaving the court no choice but to rule that she stayed in the West Bank illegally. Her schooling is not a sufficient reason for this court to rule in favor of her return."


The court also noted that any other reason may be perceived as biased towards other Gazans, citing two recent cases in which petitions for student passes were denied.


Azzam told Ynet that she was disappointed by the decision. "I have to leave Gaza. You can't live here and the court's decision proves it.


"I'm very disappointed. I thought the High Court would be more reasonable, more humane, but I guess they don't care." Azzam added she would seek other ways to finish her degree. "That's my main concern right now. After that I'm leaving Gaza once and for all."


Gisha, the center for freedom of movement, who represented Azzam, said they could not find a reasonable explanation for the court's decision.


"There is real cause for concern when the court insists on preventing a promising young student, with no history of security problems, from finishing her education," said Gisha Spokesperson Attorney Keren Tamir.


"I don't know why Israel wants to prevent Palestinian students from attending Palestinian universities. This is in clear violation of their rights and we regret that the court decided to side with the State."  


Daniel Edelson contributed to this report


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