Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Omar Shakir, was yesterday given leave to remain in the country after Jerusalem District Court blocked his deportation order. Two weeks ago, Israel’s Ministry of Interior had ordered Shakir to leave Israel or be forcibly expelled on 24th May. The reason for this decision had been Shakir’s alleged support of the BDS campaign; he denied these claims and insists he has instead been targeted for his criticism of the Israeli government.
Yesterday’s last-minute reversal allows Shakir to stay until 2nd July, when a court hearing is scheduled to determine whether he can work long-term in the region. The Ministry of Interior’s order was frozen by Jerusalem District Court on the grounds that it had been based on ‘old facts’.
HRW announced the court’s verdict shortly after they had organised a press conference in Jerusalem, which was set to update journalists on the legal proceedings filed by Shakir and HRW to block his deportation order. In light of yesterday’s announcement, the news conference, due to be held today, shortly before Shakir left the country, has been cancelled.
This month has seen a crackdown on human rights officials by Israel. As well as Shakir’s mistreatment, The Mossawa Center’s director Jafar Farah was arrested last week in Haifa and his knee was broken by Israeli police during his incarceration.
By allowing Shakir to remain, Israel might hope to stem the tide of international criticism over its recent handling of human rights officials.