Amnesty International has slammed a decision by Israeli authorities to expel Human Rights Watch official Omar Shakir, in a statement released yesterday.
“We stand in complete solidarity with Omar Shakir and strongly condemn Israel’s decision to revoke his work permit and order him to leave the country”, said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi.
“This is yet another alarming sign of the country’s increasing intolerance of critical voices.”
Amnesty urged Israeli authorities to “immediately stop their ongoing harassment of human rights defenders,” stating:
Barring access to those documenting human rights abuses won’t hide Israel’s mass violations carried out in the context of more than 50 years of occupation.
“Israel must repeal laws that arbitrarily restrict human rights advocacy, including criticism of human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law that it has committed.”
The Israeli government’s decision to revoke Shakir’s work permit, which has made international headlines, was made on the basis of his alleged support for boycotts of Israel.
As Amnesty noted, authorities “cited a 2017 amendment to the Entry to Israel Law that refuses entry to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to anyone who supports or calls for a boycott as defined under the 2011 ‘anti-boycott’ law.”
“The 2011 law makes it a civil wrong to call for a boycott of Israeli institutions or companies, including those operating in illegal settlements in the OPT,” Amnesty explained, adding that “both of these laws are contrary to Israel’s obligation to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and to non-discrimination on grounds of political opinion.”