The Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Thursday, expressed deep concern at the rise in Israeli denial, of work or stay visa applications, for foreign nationals seeking to enter the occupied territories, saying this measure is hurting Palestinian education.

The group said, in a press release, that, in June, seven international faculty members at Birzeit University (BZU) — one-third of the international staff at the university — were refused visa extensions by the Israeli authorities; several others have already been obliged to leave the country, according to WAFA.

This policy, it added, “has severely diminished opportunities for development of faculty, courses, and research programs at Palestinian institutes of higher education.”

The Campaign said that, while international academics seeking to enter or work in the occupied Palestinian territory have long faced obstacles, the situation has dramatically declined, over the past year. Since 2017, foreign nationals wishing to maintain a presence in the occupied territories, whether for reasons of work or family unity, have faced an alarming escalation in the rejection of visa extension requests and in the frequency and range of arbitrary demands and conditions imposed by Israeli authorities.

“Palestinian educational institutions have been hard hit by Israeli denials or restrictions on entry and presence in the occupied Palestinian territories,” it said, explaining that this has caused serious disruption to the academic programs and administration of these institutions, and “has undermined Palestinian universities’ ability to attract further external expertise as foreign academics are deterred from accepting teaching and research posts by the arbitrary rejections and destructive restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities.”

The Campaign called for an immediate halt to Israel’s practices and “arbitrary and abusive practice of denying entry to foreign nationals traveling to the occupied Palestinian territories to promote educational development,” urging the international community to “stand with us in protecting the Palestinian people’s right to education.”