Israel to deport director of Human Rights Watch over BDS support

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- An Israeli court on Tuesday upheld a deportation order against Human Rights Watch’s local director and gave him two weeks to leave.

The Jerusalem District Court rejected an appeal by Omar Shakir, a US citizen, to remain in the occupation state, saying that his activities against West Bank settlements amount to a boycott of Israel.

Shakir said the decision by the court was “shocking” and part of a wider campaign to stifle criticism of the Israel over its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

“When Israeli government originally ordered me to deport over my peaceful advocacy, it was disappointing. But it was a larger pattern that included denying entry of other international rights activists and squeezing Israeli right defenders accusing them slander, discrediting state and army,” he said.

Israel is also “subjecting Palestinian rights defenders to criminal charges and arrest”, he added.

Human Rights Watch condemned the Israeli deportation decision. “Israel portrays itself as the region’s only democracy, but is set to deport a rights defender over his peaceful advocacy,” said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “The decision sends the chilling message that those who criticize the involvement of businesses in serious abuses in Israeli settlements risk being barred from Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.”

Under a controversial 2017 law, Israel banned the entry of BDS activists into Israel. According to Israeli law, if an individual promotes any kind of boycott against the Israeli government and its illegal settlements, he or she can be subjected to deportation from the country.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch said neither the organization nor Shakir promotes boycotts of Israel, but acknowledged that both have called for companies to cease operations in West Bank settlements because they “inherently benefit from and contribute to serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

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