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Israeli decision to expel senior HRW official aimed at concealing truth: Palestine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Omar Shakir, the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in the occupied Palestinian territories (Photo by EPA)

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has strongly condemned a recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to deport the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in the occupied territories, describing it as an attempt by the Tel Aviv regime to conceal its crimes.

“Israel is constantly trying to surround its occupation with … high walls to hide its violations and crimes,” the ministry said in a statement released on Monday.

It added, “To achieve this goal, it does not hesitate to use all means and methods, whether by targeting media crews, by direct fire on journalists and threatening their lives, or through terrorizing international crews and staff of human rights and humanitarian organizations.”

The Palestinian foreign ministry then called on regional and international human rights organizations, associations and societies to condemn this crime, which is meant to silence the voice of truth and cover up Israel’s crimes and violations.

Earlier this month, Israel’s top court decided that Omar Shakir, an American citizen, could be expelled because of his alleged support for boycotts of Israel, and ordered him to leave by November 25.

The expulsion order would make Shakir the first individual to be expelled from Israel under a controversial 2017 law allowing the expulsion of foreigners who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement, launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society groups, seeks to use non-violent means to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, dismantle Israel's separation wall, achieve equal rights for Palestinians living in Israel and implement the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The HRW has rejected the idea that Shakir had supported the boycott movement against Israel, saying the occupying regime is in fact seeking to suppress criticism of policies towards Palestinians.

Elsewhere in his statement, Roth said Tel Aviv tried “as much as it can” to silence efforts "spotlighting the human rights violations at the heart of the oppressive, discriminatory occupation (of Palestinian land)."

Meanwhile, Saleh Higazi, deputy director of Amnesty International for the Middle East and North Africa, has censured Israel’s decision to expel Shakir.

“The Shakir case has triggered fears that human rights activists and other critics of Israel ... could face a similar fate,” Higazi said.

Last year, Israel published a list of 20 organizations whose activists would be barred from entering the occupied territories due to their support for boycott campaigns.

Israel’s strategic affairs ministry has been allocated $36 million to combat the BDS movement.

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS movement, which calls on people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural and academic ties to Tel Aviv, to help promote the Palestinian cause.

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