Helena, Montana (WiredPRNews.com) — The American consular officers came to the Gazan border from Jerusalem to interview the three scholars who, according to Israel, are too unsafe to be allowed into their country. Using a portable fingerprint machine borrowed from Washington for the interviews, the American officials are speeding up the process of granting study visas to these scholars.
The scholars were formerly the teaching assistants or students in the Islamic University of Gaza and won the Fulbright Grant in their territory. During the month of May, the State Department which sponsors the academic program, said that the scholar awards have been canceled because Israeli authorities cannot allow them to depart from Gaza.
As the decision of cancellation was made public, the State’s Secretary, Condoleezza Rice said that the program is vital to the American policies and the award was reinstated. After conducting security on the seven grant winners, Israeli officials agreed to send four student, while the remaining three were assumed to have a link with the Hamas, a terrorist group, and thus retained. American officials were not satisfied with the explanations of the Israeli authorities who only gave general statements about their family ties and came to Gaza trying to find a way for the students.
Last year, when Hamas gained control over Gaza, Israel closed its territory barring everyone to leave except in case of medical emergency. The three scholars include Fidaa Abed, Osama Daoud and Zuhair Abu Shaaban whom the American Consulate will, in fact, grant visas to and force Israel to let them cross the border. They want to pursue graduate courses in computer science and engineering.
As a result of the Fulbright controversy, Israel authorities have announced a slight change in their policies and said that they will allow more students with grants to leave for foreign study. In the past few weeks, some of the students have also been allowed to exit the country.
Wired Education Reporter