ISRAEL/ OPT: End cruel travel ban on Amnesty staff member

Amnesty International today submitted a petition to the Jerusalem District Court seeking to have a cruel travel ban imposed by the Israeli authorities on one of its staff members lifted.

The notion that Laith Abu Zeyad poses a security threat is shameless and absurd
Saleh Higazi

Laith Abu Zeyad, a campaigner and a Palestinian living in the occupied West Bank, has been barred from travelling abroad by the Israeli authorities since October 2019, for undisclosed “security reasons”. Amnesty International’s previous attempts to repeal the ban through administrative channels have been rejected.

“The notion that Laith Abu Zeyad poses a security threat is shameless and absurd. He does not know the details of the allegations against him, so he has no meaningful way to challenge them. The Israeli authorities are most likely reacting to Laith’s criticism of their abysmal human rights record, and are making baseless allegations which aim to discredit him. We cannot stand for this,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

This is a time of great uncertainty for people around the world. But for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, measures imposed in the name of containing the coronavirus are exacerbated by the arbitrary, cruel and unnecessary restrictions that already affect every aspect of their daily lives
Saleh Higazi

“This arbitrarily imposed travel ban prevents Laith from doing his work and has also had devastating personal consequences. In December last year Laith was banned from visiting his mother, who was suffering from cancer, and as a result he did not get the opportunity to see her before her death. We are petitioning the court as another step to try and end this injustice now.”

Amnesty International’s petition, represented by Israeli human rights attorneys Tamir Blank, Adi Lustigman and Hagar Shechter, names the Military Commander of the West Bank, the Civil Administration, and the Israel Security Agency as respondents. It seeks to have the travel ban lifted

“This is a time of great uncertainty for people around the world. But for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, measures imposed in the name of containing the coronavirus are exacerbated by the arbitrary, cruel and unnecessary restrictions that already affect every aspect of their daily lives,” said Saleh Higazi.

“We are asking the Court to lift the punitive travel ban on Laith Abu Zeyad, and are urging the Israeli authorities to stop abuses against Palestinian human rights activists.”