As a war of petitions rages between supporters of the Supreme Court and supporters of the justice minister, it should not be forgotten that on the really important issues, Supreme Court justices demonstrate national responsibility and are synchronized with the prevailing mood. They proved this once again last week when they accepted the state's position that 10 students from the Gaza Strip should not be permitted to travel to the West Bank for two months in order to complete a clinical internship, without which they will not be able to work as occupational therapists in Gaza. There is currently only one certified occupational therapist working in the strip.
With respect to their age, the petitioning students "belong to the risk group of those who seek to destroy Israel"; Hamas will attempt to export the war "from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria" [the West Bank]; and relations between Gaza and Israel have only degenerated since the disengagement. These are the main arguments that were submitted by the state and accepted by the Supreme Court justices, who are being wrongly besmirched.
The patriotic ruling by their honors Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Esther Hayut and Joseph Elon put an end to a saga that had gone on for three years and to the attempts by seven young men and three young women to attend a special course at Bethlehem University, which is funded by the Norwegian government and taught by experts from abroad. The course was designed to meet the needs of Palestinian society with regard to caring for people with disabilities.
Since 2004, the students have been trying to leave Gaza in order to participate in the course, but the state made it clear that there is a sweeping prohibition on people aged 16 to 35 leaving Gaza, including students. These 10 young people, who have had to make do with studying by video conferencing and correspondence, had hoped that they would be allowed to do the clinical internship, which can be done only at rehabilitation centers in the West Bank.
The petition by the nonprofit association Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, asked that the court relate specifically to the 10 and did not confront the sweeping prohibition head-on. Yet even so, the justices accepted the state's position that a ruling "that singles out the petitioners would not suit the current difficult situation," although the court did recommend establishing an "exceptions committee" in the future.
The three justices affixed their signatures to the ruling. Therefore, it is possible to commend them for having mobilized to save the state from a palpable security threat. We will not, however, be able to name and commend those anonymous Shin Bet security service officers who are protecting the state's security by preventing the outstanding master's student Luay Kfafi from traveling from Ramallah to Hamburg, Germany, via Jordan, thereby also preventing him from using the German scholarship that he was awarded. Kfafi, 24, was born in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza. In September 2000, he began studying mechanical engineering at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. In the meantime, Israel decided to declare all the Gazans living in the West Bank "illegal sojourners," yet at the same time, it also refused to change the address listed on their identity cards, in violation of the Oslo accords.
Beyond the fact that he was present "in Judea and Samaria illegally," according to the Shin Bet, "there is information about him that indicates a suspected connection between him and terrorist operatives. Under these circumstances, it appears that his departure abroad could endanger the security of the state." Kfafi, who is already working as a teaching and research assistant at the university and aspires to an academic career, has not been arrested in the West Bank even though his place of residence is known; he was not arrested at the Allenby Bridge when he tried, in vain, to cross it; he has not been declared a wanted man and he has not even been summoned for questioning by the Shin Bet.
How fortunate the state of Israel is to be protected in this way: to have a security service that understood that Kfafi's academic progress abroad was liable to endanger the state's security more than his presence in Ramallah does, and to have Supreme Court Justices who never let down their vigilance and who thwarted a plan for destroying the state by 10 students of occupational therapy.
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