Amnesty joins campaign to prevent Israel deporting Omar Shakir
Amnesty International has joined a legal case challenging the Israeli government's decision to expel Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Country Director Omar Shakir.
Shakir had his work permit removed by Israeli authorities in May 2018 and was ordered to leave the country within two weeks, citing links to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement outlawed by Israel.
Shakir, a US citizen, and HRW denied having any links with BDS, and launched a legal challenge against the order.
Israel's top court last month delayed the expulsion following the appeal.
"The Israeli authorities' decision to deport Omar Shakir is a crushing blow to freedom of expression in the country and sends an alarming signal to human rights activists and civil society in general of the extent they are willing to go in their attempt to silence those who defend human rights," said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
"We hope that the Israeli Supreme Court will uphold the state's obligations under international human rights law and overturn Omar Shakir’s expulsion order."
The Israeli Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on Human Rights Watch's appeal at the end of the hearing on 25 July 2019.
Earlier on Thursday Yair Lapid, a leader of Israel's centrist Blue and White alliance, took to Twitter to demand that Shakir be deported for trying to "destroy" Israel.
"The expulsion of Omar Shakir from Israel is absolutely justified," Lapid said.
"He is not a human rights activist but a BDS activist - an anti-Semitic movement that tries to harm Israel through lies and incitement."
In 2017, Israel passed a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country.
The law was passed in response to a movement to boycott Israel by those seeking to pressure the country over its occupation of Palestinian territories .
Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a claim activists deny, saying they only want to see the occupation end.