An attorney from Gaza has petitioned the High Court of Justice for the right to leave the Strip in order to study at Birzeit University near Ramallah, after Israel denied her request because she does not meet "humanitarian and exceptional need" criteria.
Fatima Sharif, 29, has applied for a masters' degree in Diplomacy and Human Rights Law. She filed the court petition through the Gisha human rights organization.
"Despite Israeli declarations on easements in the civilian closure, Israel refuses to let her leave for school," the petition says.
Sharif, who studied law in Gaza, currently works as an attorney at the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, a nonpartisan organization promoting human rights and diplomacy in the Strip.
"I want to raise awareness about human rights within the society of Gaza," Sharif explained. "I firmly believe that every person has rights that they must be made aware of."
The Al-Mezan center says Sharif had to apply for her MA in the West Bank because no such program is offered in Gaza, but that she planned to return to the Strip after completing her studies and continuing her work with the organization.
The petition claims that since 2000 Israel has imposed a prohibition on young people who desire to leave the Strip for West Bank universities. It adds that this is a violation of a High Court order, which states that
Israel must review these requests and grant them in "cases that would have positive human consequences".
"If the request had been reviewed specifically there is no doubt it would have been approved, because of her personality and education, because of the school program she has chosen, and because of the future use she plans to make of the tools she will glean in Gaza once she comes back after completing her studies," the petition says.