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Amnesty International slams Israel for denying entry of group's advocacy director

Nov. 2, 2017 3:24 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 3, 2017 2:00 P.M.)
An Israeli Star of David painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Hebron. (MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities on Tuesday denied the entry of an Amnesty International USA staff member to the occupied West Bank, drawing heavy criticism from the human rights organization, which alleged that the decision was a “retaliation against the organization’s human rights work.”

Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA was attempting to cross through the King Hussein border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a personal trip to visit family following the recent death of his father, Amnesty International said in a statement Wednesday.

Jarrar was interrogated by Israeli officials about the reasons for his visit, his family in the occupied Palestinian territory, and his work with Amnesty International.

According to the group, Jarrar was specifically questioned regarding the organization’s work denouncing Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the West Bank, before he was denied entry and returned back to Jordan.

After his interrogation, Jarrar was given a document saying that he was denied under Israel’s Entry to Israel Law citing “public security” or “public order” considerations as reasons.

Amnesty International said they were seeking and official answer from the Israeli authorities about why he was denied entry.

“The fact that Raed Jarrar was barred from entry after being interrogated about his work with Amnesty International appears to suggest that this move was taken in retaliation for the organization’s work on human rights violations in the cccupied Palestinian territory (OPT),” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“Refusing entry to a human rights advocate because they work for an organization that has criticized human rights violations by Israel would constitute a blatant assault on freedom of expression,” Luther said.

“This appears to be another ominous signal of the Israeli authorities’ resolve to silence human rights organizations and activists who are critical of the Israeli government. It flies in the face of the government’s repeated claims that Israel is a tolerant state, respectful of human rights.”

In July, Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon took steps to strip Amnesty International of its tax benefits in Israel, barring Israeli donors from receiving tax deductions from their donations to the international human rights organization owing to its calls to boycott Israel's illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The move seemingly ame in response to an announcement in June by Amnesty International, which said that it was launching a campaign to convince the international community to implement a full boycott of illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.

In March, Israel passed the anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) bill, which banned foreigners who have openly expressed support for BDS from entering the country.

Since then, several activists have been denied into the country under the pretext that they supported the BDS movement.

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