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Responding to Israel’s decision to expel Human Rights Watch’s Country Director Omar Shakir, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi, said:

“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. This is yet another alarming sign of the country’s increasing intolerance of critical voices.

“The Israeli authorities must immediately stop their ongoing harassment of human rights defenders. 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.”

Background

Human Rights Watch said the Israeli authorities had revoked Omar Shakir’s work permit on the basis of his alleged support for boycotts of Israel and gave him 14 days to leave the country.

The decision to revoke Omar Shakir’s work permit cites 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.

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.