GW students to stay in Israel amid air attacks

A decommissioned Israeli tank on a hilltop overlooking the West Bank. Jeremy Diamond | Hatchet Photographer
A decommissioned Israeli tank sits on a hilltop overlooking the West Bank. Jeremy Diamond | Hatchet Staff Photographer
GW is not yet considering evacuating 15 students who are studying in Israel and the West Bank as Hamas and Israel continue to exchange missiles and rockets.

The Office of International Programs has heard back from 14 of the 15 students. Donna Scarboro, the associate provost for international programs, said her office believes the other student is also safe.

Nine of the students are located in the West Bank and six are in Israel, according to University records. Some are studying at Birzeit and Tel Aviv universities and the University of Haifa. Others are interning or conducting research, Scarboro said.

A GW faculty member left the region Saturday as previously planned. Scarboro declined to name the professor.

Mimicking efforts during the last major escalation between Israel and Hamas in 2012, Egypt attempted to broker a ceasefire between the two sides this week. Hours into the ceasefire, Hamas fired rockets into Israel, and the Israeli air force responded with air strikes on Gaza.

The University did not evacuate students from the country after a string of attacks in 2012, and a group of MBA students in Turkey completed a program last summer amid anti-government protests in the country.

Last summer, the University helped evacuate six of the seven students who were in Egypt as political protests broke out across the country days after the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. GW also helped clear students from Egypt in 2011 when protests against President Hosni Mubarak took a violent turn.

Scarboro said her office monitors the situation through the U.S. Department of State, risk management providers and other study abroad programs in the country as well as the University’s academic experts on the region to determine whether students should leave.

“If it becomes evident that the dangers or distractions may be too serious to allow continued study in the area, we then enlist the necessary assistance to help students leave the area,” she said in an email.

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