The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) strongly condemned the refusal by Israeli authorities to grant a work permit to Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director, saying that “the refusal reflects a larger policy of repression of human rights work by Israeli authorities through movement restrictions, arbitrary arrests, travel bans, and denial of entry.”
In recent months, Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations have come under increased pressure from Israel for their reporting on Israel’s human rights violations. This includes a series of smear campaigns and the passage of a Knesset law in July of 2016 that obliges nongovernmental organizations to report on their foreign funding, with fines reaching about 7,000 USD for non-compliance.
United Nations experts have also been subject to denials of entry by Israel, including Richard Falk, the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
Other United Nations experts have also highlighted the shrinking space for human rights work. In December 2016, Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders have noted the increasing repression of human rights defenders in occupied Palestine, citing cases of arbitrary arrest. Particularly, the UN Special Rapporteurs raised concerns about Issa Amro, founder of Youth Against Settlements, Farid al-Atrash, a Palestinian attorney, Salah Khawaja, Stop the Wall Campaign coordinator, and Hasan Safadi, Addameer’s media coordinator, all of whom have been arrested in recent months.
PHROC stated that it stands in solidarity with Human Rights Watch and calls for the protection of human rights work, the freedom of movement for human rights staff, and an immediate end to repression and that serves to inhibit vital human rights work in Palestine, Israel and globally.