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Amnesty launches new petition to overturn 'cruel' Israeli travel ban on staff member

Laith Abu Zeyad has been banned from travel by the Israeli authorities [Amnesty]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2021

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Laith Abu Zeyad, an Amnesty campaigner, has been prevented by Israel from travelling since October 2019 in what the human rights group calls a 'flagrant violation of his rights'.
Human rights group Amnesty International submitted a new petition to an Israeli court on Thursday to overturn a "cruel travel ban” imposed by the Israeli government on one of its Palestinian staff members.

Laith Abu Zeyad, a campaigner living in the occupied West Bank, has been barred from travelling abroad by the Israeli Ministry of Defence since October 2019 for “security reasons”.

An Israeli court in Jerusalem earlier this month sided with the Ministry of Defence, dismissing an earlier petition filed by the rights group in November 2020.

Amnesty said the ban had prevented Abu Zeyad from “being with his mother in hospital before she died.”

“This is nothing short of a targeted attack and reveals the chilling extent of measures by Israel to silence human rights defenders and organisations critical of its treatment of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Read also: Amnesty slams Israel for 'punishing' Palestinian human rights defender with travel ban

Abu Zeyad applied for a humanitarian permit in September 2019 to accompany his mother from the West Bank to Jerusalem when she received medical treatment there. His application was denied on the same day. He was later banned from visiting his mother, who was suffering from cancer.

The organisation rejected claims by the Israeli authorities that Abu Zeyad poses a security threat. Information on the precise nature of the accusations has been withheld. Abu Zeyad and his lawyers have not been able to access this information. 

Amnesty called on the international community to condemn the Israeli authorities actions in the “strongest terms” and said that the situation “blatantly violates fair trial standards.”

“Israel’s continued attempts to punish Laith Abu Zeyad for his human rights work are a flagrant violation of his rights,” Higazi said.  

“Israeli authorities are determined to obstruct our work, but they are mistaken to believe this matter will simply go away. We will continue to challenge this absurd ban against our colleague and friend and highlight the human rights violations taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” he added.

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