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Israel's supreme court orders expulsion of Human Rights Watch campaigner

Omar Shakir describes the decision as politically motivated, after Israel's government accused him of supporting the BDS movement
Shakir said the court order could mean he has only 20 days left to leave Israel unless the Israeli government changes its mind (AFP)

Israel's highest court on Tuesday ordered the deportation of Omar Shakir, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) campaigner on Israel and Palestine, after the government accused him of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

The order came after an appeal lodged by HRW against a previous judgement made by another court to support Israel's decision to deport Shakir was rejected. 

In its judgement, the supreme court said that Israel's interior ministry had not made the wrong decision when it decided against renewing Shakir's visa.

Shakir has disputed claims he supports BDS, a movement seeking to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and oppression of Palestinians, and described the government's action as politically motivated and an attempt to muzzle HRW's work in Israel and Palestine. 

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Commenting on the judgement, Shakir wrote on Twitter that he has 20 days to leave Israel and said the final decision shifts back to Israel's government.

"Israeli Supreme Court upholds my deportation over my rights advocacy," Shakir wrote. 

"Decision now shifts back to Israeli government. If it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave & it’ll join ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for officials. We wont stop. And we wont be the last."

Travel ban on Amnesty campaigner 

The Supreme Court ruling comes just weeks after Israel banned an Amnesty International campaigner of Palestinian descent from leaving Israel and Palestine.

Israel issues travel ban against Amnesty campaigner from West Bank
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Laith Abu Zayed, who is based in the occupied West Bank, was barred from leaving Israel due to "security reasons" allegedly provided by Israel's Shin Bet security agency. 

Abu Zayed has not been told what accusations have been levied against him. 

Kumi Naidoo, secretary-general of Amnesty International, condemned the travel ban and described the Israeli authorities' claim that security reasons lay behind the decision as "totally absurd". 

"Their failure to provide any details to justify the ban reveals its true intent. This is a sinister move imposed as punishment for his work defending human rights of Palestinians,” Naidoo said in a statement.

“As well as violating Laith’s rights to freedom of movement and association, this travel ban further illustrates the Israeli authorities’ chilling resolve to silence human rights organisations and activists who are critical of the government. It also highlights the cruel and inhuman nature of their policies.”

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