Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, an Israeli advocacy group dedicated to increasing the free movement of Palestinians, said the case reflected U.S. unwillingness to confront a strong ally.
"It's unfortunate and telling that the U.S. government cannot convince its closest ally in the region to allow its scholarship holders to travel from Gaza to Palestinian universities in the West Bank, for fear of clashing or making a diplomatic issue," she said.
Hamas, meanwhile, has also jumped in. Last year, it barred seven high school students from traveling to the United States for a year of study under a U.S. program, citing worries over their supervision.
Ashour said students like her are caught in the political battle and stand to lose the most.
"When I studied in America, I loved how you could travel from state to state without any borders. You live your life," she said. "I can't leave Gaza. Everyone — Hamas, Israel, everyone — is controlling us. We are just students. We don't have anything to do with politics."
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