Radical anti-Israel NGOs protest in Judea
Radical anti-Israel NGOs protest in Judea Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90

Israel has denied a tourist visa to an American employee of Human Rights Watch (HRW, days after denying his application for a work visa, citing the NGO’s alleged anti-Israel bias.

Omar Shakir, the new "Israel and Palestine director" for HRW, reported in an emailed statement Thursday and on Facebook that the Interior Ministry had denied his request to enter Israel on March 5 for a 10-day visit.

A letter from the Border Control Department of the Population and Immigration Authority noted the Foreign Ministry’s response when Shakir requested a work visa in denying the application: “For some time now, this organization’s public actions and reports have focused on politics in service of Palestinian propaganda while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights,’ and therefore recommended denying the application.”

Iain Levine, the program director for HRW said it was “deeply troubling that Israeli officials, despite promises to the contrary, have denied HRW’s country director a visa to enter Israel.”

“Blocking access for human rights workers impedes our ability to document abuses by all sides and to engage the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and partners to improve the human rights situation for all,” he said.

After Shakir had been denied a work visa on Feb. 21, an Israeli official said he could apply for a tourist visa, implying that it would be granted. Shakir has 45 days to file an appeal.

Israeli authorities explained that Shakir's visa had been denied because Human Rights Watch was "not a real human rights group."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP following the denial of the work visa that HRW employees would not be banned from Israel, but they would not be issued visas.

HRW, he said, had "demonstrated time and again it is a fundamentally biased and anti-Israeli organization with a clear hostile agenda."

He also asked: "Why should we give working visas to people whose only purpose is to besmirch us and to attack us?"