Gov’t Expels Human Rights Watch Director for Israel and Palestine

The far-right Israeli government expelled the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch on Monday, November 25, officials from the organization said, the first such deportation under a 2017 law targeting supporters of a boycott movement.

Omar Shakir at Ben-Gurion airport on Monday, November 25, moments before his deportation

Omar Shakir at Ben-Gurion airport on Monday, November 25, moments before his deportation (Photo: Human Rights Watch)

The director, Omar Shakir, departed the country after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a deportation order from last year that had been delayed. That order is linked to a 2017 law that allows the state to bar entry to individuals who are seen as advocating for a boycott of Israel. The law has been used numerous times to deny entry to people at Israel’s airport or borders — and was invoked by the Israeli government to dissuade US Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel and the West Bank this past summer.

Joint List lawmaker Ofer Cassif (Hadash) said on Monday this was “an official stamp by the State of Israel [confirming] the painfully accurate reports by human rights organizations on the terror of the occupation and silencing those who criticize it.” Cassif later added in a tweet “I congratulate the government for unveiling the occupation’s ugly face to the entire world.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson responded to the deportation, saying, “We regret the decision taken by the Israeli authorities to deport him [Shakir]. The secretary-general supports the important work by human rights defenders around the world, and that work should be allowed to continue.” Likewise, PLO Department of Public Diplomacy official Hanan Ashrawi said that, “With the deportation… Israel has unequivocally demonstrated the subservience of all official branches of government to the regime of political repression, brute force and racist mentality that maintain the illegal occupation of Palestine.”

Related: Supreme Court Upholds Expulsion of Human Rights Watch Director