Ben White writes in the Guardian on the Israeli-led separation between the West Bank and Gaza:
Twenty-one-year-old Palestinian student Berlanty Azzam was seized by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank last month. Bound and blindfolded, she was forcibly deported to the Gaza Strip. Berlanty was in her final semester at Bethlehem University in the West Bank, and was returning from a job interview in Ramallah.
The problem was that she had an ID card registered in Gaza, and the Israeli occupation, in the words of the human rights organisation, B’tselem, “almost completely forbids the movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.
Bethlehem university has had “continuous problems” getting Gaza students the requisite permission from Israel, according to communications officer Stephanie Rhodes.
“We are a Palestinian university and these are Palestinian students. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are supposed to be treated as one territorial unit, but that’s not what’s happening.”
Rhodes was referring to how Israel’s division of the Palestinian territories goes against its own recognition of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as “a single territorial unit” in previous agreements. This was also affirmed by the Israeli supreme court in 2002 as part of a justification for the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza. The court ruled that this did not violate international law because the two areas “should be regarded as one territory”.
Restricting Palestinian students’ freedom of movement has been just one element of Israeli measures that deepen the separation between the Gaza and the West Bank. While the bitter split between Fatah and Hamas has led some to talk about two different Palestinian “states”, the physical division is one that Israel has created over a number of years.
Israel’s Supreme Court has said a Palestinian woman whom the Israeli army deported to Gaza from the West Bank should be able to challenge the move.