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A Gazan Education

GAZA – This was supposed to be my first year of medical school. Instead, I am stuck here in Gaza, in my father’s house inside the Jabalia refugee camp, with few options and no way out. After I finished high school last year, I decided to become a doctor. Gaza cries out for bone specialists, but the training I need is available only abroad. 

When I won a place at a medical college in Germany, my parents were proud. I was excited to follow my older brother, who is already studying there. In February, the German authorities granted me an entrance visa. I wasted no time in asking the Israeli authorities for permission to travel to Europe. But I was told that only patients in need of emergency medical evacuation would be allowed out – not students.

Hundreds of other young people trapped in the Gaza Strip have won admission to study abroad. For many of us, this is our only opportunity to continue our education. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth, and one of the poorest – 1.5 million of us live on a patch of land about 41 kilometers long and 6-12 kilometers wide. The local hospitals lack the equipment needed to perform many important procedures, like radiation treatments for cancer patients and heart surgery. 

Universities in Gaza are overcrowded and starved for supplies. Many subjects are not even taught, and there are few post-graduate programs. Instructors from abroad cannot enter Gaza. Without the ability to go overseas, we cannot learn.