A third-year Bradford University student – one of hundreds whose continued studies are at risk because they cannot leave Gaza – yesterday lost his legal attempt to be allowed urgently to return to Britain.
Israel's Supreme Court yesterday rejected a petition brought on behalf of Khaled al-Mudallal by the Israeli human rights organisation Gisha, which it hoped would pave the way for the departure of Palestinian students trapped since Hamas's seizure of Gaza in June.
Mr Mudallal returned to Gaza in June to collect his new bride Duaa – who also has a British residence permit valid until November 2010 – but was prevented from leaving when Israel closed the crossing into Egypt after the Fatah-Hamas infighting that broke out after he arrived.
He says his final year, rented house, part-time job and a year-long work placement built into his business and management course are threatened because he cannot take vital exams he was forced to postpone because of an earlier closure when he came back to get married last December.
The plight of Mr Mudallal, 22, has attracted strong support from the Bradford University students' union and the National Union of Students.
Since mid-August, Israel has allowed between 450 and 600 students to leave from the Erez crossing into Israel to Nitzana on the Israel-Egypt border. But between 4,000 and 5,000 Palestinians with work or study permits abroad are trapped, and no buses have left since 6 September.
However, the Supreme Court yesterday accepted the Israeli state's argument that it intended to resume shuttle buses. Gisha said this meant that Mr Mudallal would have to take his turn "if and when the buses resume".
Mr Mudallal said yesterday that his manager had warned him that he would not be able to keep open the part-time job he needs to finance his studies and his £400 monthly rent and utility bills. "Britain has a great place in my heart and I want to continue my studies there but then come back and make whatever contribution I can to my people here," he said.
Sari Bashi, the director of Gisha, said yesterday: "Preventing Khaled and other students from reaching their studies violates their basic right to freedom of movement and access to education."
Mark Regev, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the court was "independent and highly professional". He added: "If it says this petition was not justified it may well be right."