Holy Land: weekend opening at crossing gives hope to Gazan students

Many of those leaving were students able to prove their registrations at Egyptian universities or provide visas showing their acceptance to study in other countries. More students, and others seeking medical assistance, left Gaza on Sunday. Ramy Abdu, of Manchester Metropolitan University and a student representative in Gaza, is amongst those who have been able to leave and is today arriving in Britain.

Khaled al-Mudallal, of the Let Palestinians Study campaign in Britain and last year a student trapped in Gaza himself, said: 'We are very pleased to hear that many of those who have been delayed from taking up their studies around the world will this weekend have gained the opportunity to leave the Gaza strip and take up their universities places. We hope that in the near future, Israel acts to end the siege which has proven so debilitating to Gazans' human rights, including the right to education, and recognise that peace and prosperity cannot flourish when Palestinians are denied the ability to access education.'

George Woods, Student officer, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: "In the same week as the successful attempt by international peace activists to break the siege of Gaza by boat, we hope that this will further raise awareness of the terrible conditions that Israeli authorities have imposed on Gaza's 1.5 million people."

Tony Blair's sister in law Lauren Booth, an 81 year old Catholic nun and an 84-year-old concentration camp survivor were among those who joined two peace ships, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, which broke through Israel's blockade of Gaza last month to deliver relief supplies.

Despite the Israeli authorities warning it would treat them as pirates, the ships were allowed to enter Gaza's harbour on 24 August.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Aviv Shiron said: "They wanted provocation at sea, but they won't get it. We know who the passengers are and what they are bringing with them and so we have no problem letting them through."

A 2000 strong crowd turned out to greet the ships as they sailed into Gaza Port.

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