Annual pro-Palestinian events aimed at raising awareness about human violations of the Israeli regime in the occupied territories was canceled by two British universities.

The University of Exeter and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) announced the cancellation of pro-Palestinian events, run by the students, called Israel Apartheid Week.

Students at Exeter were banned from giving a street theater performance during which some participants were to dress up as Israeli soldiers while others performed the roles of Palestinian victims. The event was called Mock Checkpoint.

The event was banned for “safety and security reasons” less than 48 hours before it was launched. An appeal against the decision was also rejected.

“They are not allowing freedom of speech – by cancelling an event that was in support of Palestinian activism and for Palestinian rights; they are directly censoring us,” said members of Friends of Palestine Society at Exeter, criticizing the university of censoring students.

A letter was signed by almost 250 academics following the move, denouncing attempts by university officials to silence campus discussion regarding the Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

“These are outrageous interferences with free expression, and are direct attacks on academic freedom,” the letter read.

“As academics with positions at UK universities, we wish to express our dismay at this attempt to silence campus discussion about Israel, including its violation of the rights of Palestinians for over 50 years.”