Human Rights Watch official in Israel expelled from the country

Omar Shakir, a US citizen, is accused by the Jewish state of supporting the "boycott, divestment, sanctions" campaign against the country.

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American Omar Shakir, head of Israel and the Palestinian Territories at Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Jerusalem on November 25. AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS

"I do not remember another democracy that blocked access to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher", lamented the director of the NGO, Kenneth Roth. HRW chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, American Omar Shakir, became the first person to be expelled from the country on Monday, November 25, as part of a controversial crackdown on a boycott campaign in Israel.

Since 2017, Israel has banned foreigners accused of supporting the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions). The authorities refused to renew Shakir's visa at the end of 2018, accusing him of being a supporter of the boycott. What denies the interested party. He has exhausted all his remedies to cancel his deportation.

Read also What is the BDS movement, the cause of calls for a boycott of Israel?

Omar Shakir compared this decision to the treatment he received from Egypt, Syria or Bahrain. For its part, HRW assures that it will continue its mission but outside the Jewish state, for lack of visa. "It shows the increasingly restricted character of Israeli democracy"Kenneth Roth insisted.

"The world is not fooled"

To justify the expulsion, the State of Israel has highlighted comments by Omar Shakir defending the boycott of Israel before he takes up his post in the country in 2017. The Israeli authorities also criticize HRW criticism settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law.

"All those who act against Israel must know that we will not allow them to live or work here", said after the verdict of the Supreme Court, the Israeli interior minister, who introduced Shakir as "A leader of the BDS movement". "Neither HRW nor I as his representative have ever called for a boycott"defended himself.

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In the same way that it does to governments, the NGO called on companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to stop doing so, believing that they were contributing to human rights violations. he explains. For Kenneth Roth, Mr. Shakir is targeted because he put "In light effectively" policies 'Discriminatory' of the Hebrew State.

"In trying to penalize Omar and expel him, Israel highlights its own shortcomings. The world is not fooled. "

The example of South Africa

The European Union (EU) has expressed its opposition to the Israeli decision, as well as the UN organization which warned in May against "Shrinking space for human rights defenders to act" in Israel. The United States said their "Strong opposition to the BDS campaign"however, affirming their attachment to freedom of expression.

At the heart of Israel's conflict with HRW is Israel's war against the BDS movement, which calls for Israel's economic, cultural or scientific boycott to end the occupation and colonization of the country. Palestinian Territories. His support is based on the example of South Africa, saying that such a campaign has put an end to the apartheid regime.

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