Yousef Aljamal is trapped in Gaza. If he isn’t allowed to leave soon he’ll lose a hard won university scholarship to study in Malaysia.
His course began on 22 September, but the Israeli siege combined with the closure of Gaza’s border with Egypt means he is still stuck in Gaza a week later.
The closure of the Rafah Crossing, the only terminal connecting Gaza with Egypt, and thus to the outside world, is the reason why hundreds of Palestinian students may lose their scholarships, including myself.
The crossing has been closed since events in Egypt in June, when the Egyptian president, Muhammad Morsi, was ousted by the military. Israel’s border with Gaza is also closed because of the six year siege.
Last week, I tried to cross to Egypt twice to no avail – only a handful of students were allowed in. The hall at which Palestinian travellers wait at the Palestinian side of the crossing was full of passengers wishing to go out for several reasons. Those waiting were mainly students and patients.
I had to change my flight from Egypt to Malaysia to next week, hoping the crossing opens again, one more time, though nothing is guaranteed.
I was supposed to travel earlier this month, for the deadline for me to take my place at the University of Malaya in Malaysia is 22 September. I talked to the university and they showed readiness to extend my start date by a few more days.
I am at risk of losing my scholarship because of the closure of the border.
This is not the first time I got stuck. In July I was in Malaysia for the launch of a book I had co-translated. When I flew back to Egypt to enter Gaza, I was deported back to Malaysia by the Egyptian regime which had taken over from Muhammad Morsi. I even had to pay for my flight back.
This was happening to many Palestinians at that time, who were trying to return to Gaza after travel abroad. Many had no re-entry visas to the countries they were being deported back to. We were stateless, and stranded.
At that time I felt powerless, oppressed and humiliated.
This time, my academic future is at risk, the little dream I have is being crushed in front of my eyes, for no justified reason.
Getting in and out of Palestine should be a right protected by international law and conventions. Yet this right is nothing more than a dream in Gaza.
Don’t crush our dreams. I hope peace prevails in Egypt sooner rather than later. I hope Israel will end its siege. Putting our academic future at risk is not acceptable. Let us out! Let us make these dreams, which are rights elsewhere, come true.
In the outside world, people enjoy travelling, but here, crossings are used to suffocate us and make us feel less human. People of the world need to act, students everywhere stand in solidarity with us, for this injustice might happen to any of you one day.
Yousef Aljamal’s blog, ‘He who is brave is free’: http://yeljamal.wordpress.com/