Israeli occupation authorities are preventing an Amnesty International staff member from accompanying his mother to chemotherapy treatment, according to the global human rights organisation.
Laith Abu Zeyad, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Israel and Palestine, has written of how – as a Palestinian living in the West Bank – the “tragic news” of his mother’s diagnosis was compounded with worry about Israel’s “brutal control of all aspects of our daily lives”.
“When I learned about my mother’s illness, I applied for a travel permit from the Israeli military to accompany my mother to medical appointments at the hospital in East Jerusalem, where she was to receive chemotherapy treatment,” Laith wrote.
“For decades, Israel has imposed a permit system restricting all movement for Palestinians, who are required to apply for special authorization to enter Israel and occupied East Jerusalem for any reason, including work, medical care, family visits, and trips to religious, cultural, and archaeological sites,” he explained.
Yet, “as in so many cases involving younger Palestinians, particularly men”, Israeli occupation authorities denied Laith’s permit request for undisclosed “security reasons”.
In addition, Laith disclosed that Israeli authorities also prevented him from attending his aunt’s funeral in Jordan, again for so-called “security reasons”.
Israel’s occupation manages to separate us from our loved ones in life and death, in the most hideous and punitive ways. Now, I can no longer leave the occupied West Bank at all. In the simplest and most definitive terms: I am locked in.
The “security reasons” behind the travel bans have not been revealed and, according to Laith, “Israeli authorities are targeting human rights advocates with “security” bans for the role we play in exposing Israeli human rights violations.”
“The growing list of human rights defenders who are detained, attacked, denied entry, or facing deportation or travel bans illustrates the heavy price they are forced to pay for carrying out their vital work of protecting and promoting basic rights and freedoms.”
Laith finished by urging third states, “particularly those that include human rights protection as part of their foreign policy”, to take “concrete action”.
“Israeli officials interpret…inaction as a green light to continue intensifying the repression of human rights defenders. Now is the time that they stand up for these rights defenders and make it clear that Israel’s attacks against civil society will not be tolerated.”