Israel/OPT: Court sets hearing seeking to lift travel ban on Amnesty campaigner
After having accepted, in late March, a petition from Amnesty International seeking to lift a travel ban imposed by the Israeli authorities on one of its staff members, the Jerusalem District Court has set a hearing date on this matter for 31 May.
Laith Abu Zeyad, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), 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.
We are asking the court to lift the travel ban on our colleague Laith Abu Zeyad, but the authorities can decide to withdraw the ban before we get to the hearing, and they should certainly do so immediately
“The decision by the Israeli authorities to impose the travel ban is baseless. He is a human rights defender who should be protected and not punished. Any suggestion that Laith poses a security threat is simply absurd,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“We are asking the court to lift the travel ban on our colleague Laith Abu Zeyad, but the authorities can decide to withdraw the ban before we get to the hearing, and they should certainly do so immediately.”
“The travel ban imposed on Laith since October 2019 has largely impacted his ability to do his work and had a devastating personal consequence. We take this opportunity today to also urge the Israeli authorities to end all violations against human rights defenders in Israel and the OPT”
On 25 March 2020, Amnesty International submitted a petition to the Jerusalem District Court seeking to have the travel ban against Laith Abu Zeyad lifted.
In September 2019, Laith Abu Zeyad applied for a humanitarian permit at al-Zaytoona military checkpoint (Hazatem) near Jerusalem to accompany his mother for medical treatment in Jerusalem. His application was denied on the same day based on “security reasons” without any further explanation. 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.
On June 2018, Laith Abu Zeyad was among those arbitrarily detained and tortured by Palestinian security forces, during a crackdown on a demonstration organized by Palestinian activists in Ramallah.