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Amnesty slams Israel for 'punishing' Palestinian human rights defender with travel ban Open in fullscreen

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

Laith Abu Zeyad was stopped from travelling to a relative's funeral [Amnesty]

Date of publication: 1 November, 2019

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Human rights group Amnesty International has slammed Israel's decision to impose a travel ban on one of its staff members in the West Bank.
Amnesty International has slammed Israel's decision to issue a travel ban against one of its staff, calling the decision a "punitive measure against the organisation's human rights work".

The statement came after Laith Abu Zeyad, Amnesty International's Campaigner on Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), was apprehended at the Allenby/King Hussein crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on 26 October.

Abu Zeyad was on the way to a relative's funeral when he was taken in by Israeli authorities and held for four hours.

Amnesty have slammed the move as "another chilling indication of Israel's growing intolerance of critical voices."

"The Israeli authorities' claim that they have security reasons for banning Laith Abu Zeyad from travelling is 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," said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International. 

"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 organizations and activists who are critical of the government. It also highlights the cruel and inhuman nature of their policies."

Abu Zeyad had previously been stopped by Israeli authorities in September while accompanying his mother for chemotherapy treatment in Jerusalem.

He was denied a humanitarian permit to enter Israel, despite the nature of his visit.

Abu Zeyad was also among those arbitrarily detained and allegedly tortured by Israeli forces in June 2018 during a crackdown on a demonstration against Israel's siege on Gaza. The Amnesty staff member was "attacked" by two Israeli security officials while on his way to monitor the protests, according to Amnesty.

The human rights group has urged Israel to end what it has described as the punishment of Palestinian human rights activists.

"The Israeli authorities must immediately lift arbitrary travel bans on Laith Abu Zeyad and all other Palestinian human rights defenders who are being punished for daring to speak out about Israel's systematic discrimination and human rights violations against Palestinians," said Kumi Naidoo. 

Israel has intensified its crackdown on Palestinian civil society organisations in recent years, introducing restrictive legislation and targeting staff members of human rights groups.

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