Israel expels human rights watch director

November, 2019

A senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) official who was expelled from Israel over his alleged support for promoting boycotts of the country will continue carrying out his work from a neighbouring country, according to the group.

The Israeli government's decision to expel Omar Shakir, a US citizen who represents HRW in Israel and the  occupied Palestinian territories , was upheld by Israel's top court on November 5, after months of deliberations.

"Despite my deportation today, the Israeli government has failed to muzzle HRW or the human rights movement," Shakir said at a press conference in Jerusalem, alongside Kenneth Roth, HRW's executive director. 

Shakir's departure marked the first expulsion of its kind under a 2017 law allowing the deportation of foreigners who support boycotting Israel, though there have been cases of people being denied entry under the measure.

Israeli law bars entry to those who publicly support a boycott of Israel or its settlements in the occupied West Bank, considered illegal under international law.

The case against Shakir was initially based on alleged statements in support of a boycott he made before taking up his post, according to HRW.

The government later added new statements it alleged were in support of a boycott.

HRW says it has criticised Israel's human rights record but has never advocated a boycott, adding that the same is true for Shakir since he joined the organisation. It says Shakir is being targeted for the group's opposition to settlements in the occupied West Bank and its calls for companies to stop working with the settlements.

Source: AJ