Amnesty urges Israel to lift travel ban on campaigner

Rights watchdog expresses concern after Israeli authorities set a court hearing for one of its staff.

    Abu Zeyad was stopped by Israeli authorities at the King Hussein/Allenby border crossing on October 26 [Courtesy of Amnesty International]
    Abu Zeyad was stopped by Israeli authorities at the King Hussein/Allenby border crossing on October 26 [Courtesy of Amnesty International]

    Amnesty International reiterated a call for Israel to lift a "baseless" travel ban on one of its staff in the occupied Palestinian territories.

    Laith Abu Zeyad, who works as Amnesty's campaigner on Israel and the occupied territories, was stopped by Israeli authorities at the King Hussein/Allenby border crossing on October 26 while on his way to attend a relative's funeral in Jordan.

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    After being held for four hours, he was told he was banned from travelling abroad for what Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, called "serious security considerations".

    The rights watchdog regretted that, after initially accepting the group's petition to lift the travel ban, Israeli authorities have set a hearing on the matter at the Jerusalem District Court on May 31. 

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    "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, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "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."

    In September, Abu Zeyad was also denied an Israeli military-issued permit to enter occupied East Jerusalem to accompany his mother for medical treatment.

    In December last year, Laith was banned from visiting his mother who was suffering from cancer, and as a result, did not get the chance to see her before her death.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News