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Israel bans visas to the Human Rights Watch group

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Human Rights Watch is one of the most popular NGO’s these days. However, Israel band visas for members of the organization have accused them of having an “extreme hostile and anti-Israel agenda”.

The decision to reject visas was proposed by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but was enforced by new Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, who is a citizen of the US.

Israel blames the Human Watch group for “ public activities and reports engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights.’’’

Obviously, the group denied the allegation of being biased in their reports.   According to Israel’s government, another reason why the NGO didn’t receive any visas, was the fact that they are not considered a “real group focusing on human rights”.

Nevertheless, Amnesty International would be allowed to cross Israel’s border, however, only in particular situations.

Israel’s government is putting pressure on both international NGO and local human rights organizations.

Iain Levine, the programme director at Human Rights Watch, made a statement about the current situation. He criticized Israel’s government for being “unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticism of its actions and political propaganda”.

Gradually, Israel’s government started being unfavourable towards human rights organizations and activists by deciding to ban visas for the Human Watch group.

Another example which shows the decrease of tolerance for activists took place in December. Ben Gurion, an African theologian, and Isabel Phiri, who works for World Council of Churches, were detained at the airport and deported because they were accused of supporting sanctions against Israel.

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Pamela Raczyńska

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