HAIFA, February 25, 2017 (WAFA) – Sixteen human rights organization working in Israel denounced in a joint statement Israel’s decision to deny entry for a worker from Human Rights Watch under the pretext the international organization works for the interest of the Palestinians while criticizing Israel.
“We, human rights organizations from Israel, consider Israel’s refusal to allow Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to enter the country a cause of grave concern,” they said. “We stand in solidarity with him and our colleagues at HRW.”
The rights organizations said if Israel seeks to portray itself as democracy, it cannot turn its borders into “thought police.”
“[W]hat is democracy without free speech, robust public debate and open criticism? A state that defines itself as democratic cannot turn its border control into a thought police,” said the statement.
“Neither closing Israel’s borders to human rights organizations and activists nor other measures by the Israeli government against organizations that criticize the occupation will deter us from continuing to report human rights violations in the territories controlled by Israel. Attempts to silence the messenger will not suppress our message,” it concluded.
The organization included Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Akevot, Amnesty International Israel, Bimkom, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Coalition of Women for Peace, Emek Shaveh, Gisha, Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, Haqel-Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights, Human Rights Defenders Fund, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Yesh Din.