Israel continues to ban Amnesty staffer from travel

Amnesty staffer (Amnesty)

Middle East Monitor  /  March 23, 2021

Israeli authorities continue to ban Palestinian rights activist and Amnesty International campaigner Laith Abu Zeyad from travel to East Jerusalem or abroad, Rai al-Youm reported yesterday.

The Israeli District Court in Jerusalem is due to hold a hearing on 6 April to respond to Amnesty’s new petition filed against Abu Zeyad’s travel ban.

Abu Zeyad, Amnesty International said, has been barred from travelling abroad by the Israeli authorities since October 2019 for unspecified “security reasons”.

A first petition filed against Abu Zeyad’s travel ban was dismissed in February and a new petition was submitted to overturn the “cruel” travel ban imposed by the Israeli authorities on one of its staff members, a campaigner, and Palestinian living in the occupied West Bank.

Amnesty International said that Abu Zeyad applied for a humanitarian permit at al-Zaytoona military checkpoint (Hazatem) near Jerusalem in September 2019 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 2019, Abu Zeyad was banned from visiting his mother, who was suffering from cancer, in a nearby Jerusalem hospital and as a result, he did not get the opportunity to see her before her death.

In May 2020, a Jerusalem District Court judge heard Amnesty’s petition to lift the unlawful travel ban against Abu Zeyad but accepted the Israeli Security Agency’s unfounded assertion that he is a security risk, effectively rubber-stamping the ban. He was denied a special permit to attend his hearing but was represented by his lawyer, Tamir Blank.

The information the authorities provided to the court against him was kept secret and could not be challenged.

His lawyer and observers from Amnesty International and diplomatic missions were required to leave the courtroom when the authorities presented the secret information to the judge. This means Abu Zayed will be unable to appeal against the decision.