“International and local defenders of human rights and activists who denounce the military occupation are constantly subjected to intimidation by the authorities and the right,” said Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS), on the Interior Ministry decision to deny a visa to the American lawyer Omar Shakir, who was appointed as Human Rights Watch director of the Israel and the Palestinian Territories office. “The latest abuse was the denial of a residence visa to a Human Rights Watch member. However, we will not give up.”
BtS and other human rights NGOs — Amnesty, B’Tselem, Adalah, Yesh Din — expressed their full solidarity with HRW and Shakir and promised that “neither the closure of the borders to human rights associations and activists, nor other measures taken by the Israeli government against the organizations that criticize the occupation, will stop us from documenting the violation of human rights in the territories controlled by Israel.”
The denial of Shakir’s visa is the latest restrictive measure adopted by the Netanyahu government against individuals and organizations that, according to the Israeli Executive Power, maintain a position hostile to the Jewish state, spread “Palestinian propaganda” and support BDS, the international boycott campaign against Israel. Furthermore, a new law also allows officers at the border terminal and Tel Aviv airport to deny entry to activists and foreign BDS supporters. In the past, penalties have been charged against Israeli NGOs that support BDS.