Flanked by Human Rights Watch executives and his lawyer, a defiant Omar Shakir, the New York-based organization’s Israel and Palestine director, vowed to continue what he started two and a half years ago, documenting widespread human rights violations in Israel and Palestinian territories.
Shakir said he will spend the next few days briefing various European governments about his case, and will ultimately return to the region to continue his work.
Shakir will remain in his current position, though he will be working from Amman, Jordan, he said.
Israel says its decision to deport Shakir was over his alleged support of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Shakir vehemently denies that either he personally or the organization he represents has ever called for a boycott of Israel.
The European Union, United Nations and others had called on Israel to reverse its decision, with the UN warning of a “shrinking space for human rights defenders to operate” in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
But the United States, Israel’s closest ally, declined to do so, saying only that it supported freedom of expression.