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17 human rights organizations call on ‘Israel’ to lift ban on Amnesty employee

17 human rights organizations have called on the occupation state of ‘Israel’ to lift the ban on Laith Abu Zeyad, who is being prevented by the Israeli authorities from travelling abroad.

Laith Abu Zeyad, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a Palestinian living in the occupied West Bank, has been barred from travelling abroad by the Israeli authorities since October 2019, for undisclosed “security reasons.

The second petition of Laith will be heard today in the Jerusalem District Court.

“Prohibiting Laith Abu Zeyad from leaving the West Bank is yet another example of Israel’s persecution of human rights activists, which is aimed at silencing critics of the regime and its policies,” said the organizations in a statement.

They added, “Nevertheless, these are exactly the measures that expose the nature and goals of the regime.”

‘Israel’ has been barring Laith from leaving the occupied West Bank for almost a year and a half, as Amnesty International said it believes that ‘Israel’ is punishing him for his human rights work.

“Laith’s case reflects the wider pattern of attacks against human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and it is another chilling signal of Israel’s growing intolerance of critical voices,” Amnesty International said.

For Palestinians living in the OPT, a travel ban means being completely trapped indefinitely, with no way to leave.

“Laith is a brave human rights defender who has dedicated his time and effort to support those in need, now we need to help him,” Amnesty said.

On 25 March 2020, Amnesty International submitted a petition to the Jerusalem District Court seeking to have the travel ban against Laith Abu Zeyad lifted.

In September 2019, Laith Abu Zeyad applied for a humanitarian permit at al-Zaytoona military checkpoint (Hazatem) near Jerusalem to accompany his mother for medical treatment in Jerusalem.

His application was denied on the same day based on “security reasons” without any further explanation.

In December 2019, Laith was banned from visiting his mother, who was suffering from cancer, and as a result he did not get the opportunity to see her before her death.

On June 2018, Laith Abu Zeyad was among those arbitrarily detained and tortured by Palestinian security forces, during a crackdown on a demonstration organized by Palestinian activists in Ramallah.

“Even though I am facing this restriction on my freedom, I am more encouraged than ever to protect human rights. With your help I know I can keep going. Thank you,” Laith stated.

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