Students like Ahmad urgently need your support
Over the past seven months, students in Gaza have been struggling to rebuild their lives amidst the appalling destruction wreaked by Israel's offensive last summer.
In 51 days, thousands of Palestinian homes were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving over 100,000 people homeless. Ordinary people who just want to get on with their lives.
Yet reconstruction has stalled because of political stalemate and lack of support from the interrnational community.
Ahmad is from Khuza'a, a small farming town in Gaza near the border with Israel. During Israel’s last offensive, his home was surrounded and under siege for 22 hours. After what seemed like a lifetime, the Red Cross arrived and was able to escort some residents out. Others were forced to stay for a whole week by order of the Israeli army.
Most of Khuza’a was obliterated. Ahmad’s house was destroyed and his family was forced to take refuge in a UN school in Khan Younis. They were lucky to make it out alive.
After the ceasefire, Ahmad wanted to enrol at university to study nursing, but his father said, “No house, no education.” His family is in dire financial straits and they need to direct their priorities to other things, like food.
Ahmad is one of many students who have lost their homes or family members who would have supported them through university. Their formative years have been spent under a brutal blockade that constitutes collective punishment and is against international law.
Anywhere else in the world, these young men and women would have been full of excitement as they embarked on their studies at university. But, in the aftermath of Israel’s offensive, they have had to deal with the horror of what has happened.
It’s vital that those who have already experienced such terrible loss aren’t also deprived of their right to an education.
Shockingly, as many as 11 universities and colleges were directly affected by Israel’s military strikes last year. Al Azhar University, the University College of Applied Sciences and the Islamic University of Gaza each sustained between 2.5 and 3 million dollars’ worth of damage. And they had only just finished the reconstruction of buildings the Israeli army had previously destroyed during ‘Operation Cast Lead’. Higher education institutions, academic staff and students in Gaza are all being put under terrible strain.
This year, in addition to our West Bank scholarships, Fobzu has committed £50,000 to providing emergency funds to cover the tuition fees of students in Gaza. But many more need our support. That is why we have launched an online appeal to raise a further £50,000.
Dr Aimee Shalan
We promise to use your donation to support the educational needs of Palestinians wherever the need is greatest.
Photo: Beit Hanoun, Gaza, February 2015