RAMALLAH: The recent escalation in Israeli army incursions into Palestinian cities, arrests, and killings has created difficult conditions for the approximately 10,000 Palestinian students living in Israel and attending Palestinian universities in the West Bank.
Arab News has learned from reliable sources that at least 250 of these students have left their campuses and are now living in Israel.
Universities suspended classes as a result of widespread strikes, funerals for Palestinians killed by Israelis, and an increase in Israeli military checkpoints around Palestinian cities.
The Arab-American University in Jenin has around 5,000 students, while An-Najah University has around 3,000, Jerusalem University in Abu Dis has 1,100, and Hebron University has around 1,000.
Arab News has learned from reliable sources that the annual $8 million in tuition fees paid by Israeli students to Palestinian universities is a major motivating factor in the Israeli government’s campaign of harassment against the students. If they decide to leave, it will be to the detriment of Palestinian universities while the benefit of Israeli universities.
Palestinian universities in the West Bank benefit financially from the large number of Israeli Palestinians who choose to study there. Since many of these students will need to rent housing close to their campuses, this is good news for the Palestinian economy.
A combination of Israel’s persistent harassment, questions, and interrogations, and the worsening security situation in these cities led many students to make the difficult decision to abandon their university studies. In addition, the Israeli security agency Shin Bet has set up a dedicated unit to keep tabs on Palestinian students.
Political analyst Jalal Banna has commented on the situation, saying, “These students are studying in a geographical area that poses a major security challenge to Israel, so it is natural to look at them suspiciously.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli minister of education turned down a request from Palestinian college students to partner with Arab universities in Israel.
Palestinian university professor living in Israel, Amir Assi, told Arab News that Israeli authorities’ refusal to remove obstacles faced by Palestinian students is a disgrace to the occupying forces.
A professor at the university, Youssef Jabarin, said: “For security reasons, Israel doesn’t want Palestinians to attend Palestinian universities, and it also won’t allow an Arab university to be established in Israel for Palestinians to learn Arabic there.
The governor of Jenin, Major General Akram Rajoub, recently told Arab News that the invasion of Jenin and the camp there by the Israeli army had disastrous consequences for the local population.
He mentioned the increasing poverty in Jenin and the surrounding camp by saying that he used to give out 200 coupons to low-income families to help them buy daily goods before Ramadan, but that now he needs to give out some 700 coupons.
He claimed that Jenin and the camp there were transformed into “a practical training camp for its forces” by the Israeli military “through the deployment of multiple units and the employment of cutting-edge tools like drones, among others.