Good news, then. Israel has decided that those Gazan students who earned Fulbright scholarships will be allowed to leave Gaza, despite their stated policy that “No one gets out.” (I am exaggerating).
The students were informed Thursday that their scholarships for the upcoming academic year would be deferred because they couldn’t get out of Gaza, which Israel blockaded after Islamic Hamas militants seized power a year ago.
Israel allows pressing humanitarian cases to leave Gaza, but officials say students are not included in that definition. Some 500 students and their dependents have been allowed to leave over the past year. But exit permits have dried up in recent months in the wake of militant attacks on Israel, according to an Israeli human rights group, Gisha, which has been helping Gaza students leave for studies abroad.
On Monday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev indicated the problem would be solved.
Israel, he added, “sincerely hopes that it will be possible to get the students out by the beginning of the coming academic year.”
The U.S. started appealing to Israel on Friday. The lobbying included a call from the No. 3 State Department official to Israel’s ambassador in Washington on Friday morning.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters on Friday that the U.S. objected to the Israeli decision and “they heard our concerns.”
Regev said the U.S. didn’t immediately approach Israel to expedite the exit of the scholarship winners. “If we weren’t aware of a problem, how can anyone expect us to solve it?” Regev asked.