Omar Shakir, HRW's Israel and Palestine director, learned officially on Tuesday that he had been denied a visa to enter Israel after months of waiting for news about his application. Last year, the Foreign Ministry asked Human Rights Watch to intervene in a case involving Israeli victims of human rights abuses.
"Neither closing Israel's borders to human rights organizations and activists nor other measures by the Israeli government against organizations that criticize the occupation will deter us from continuing to report human rights violations in the territories controlled by Israel", the groups added.
On Twitter, Shakir noted that while Israel was far from unique in contesting HRW's findings, it was nearly alone in blocking the organization from entering the country - only states such as North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela "where there is zero appetite for human rights engagement" had done the same to date.
"Human Rights Watch is an independent, international, nongovernmental organisation", the group stressed.
In December, Israel detained African theologian Isabel Phiri over claims the organization for which she works, World Council of Churches, supported sanctions against Israel.
"It is disappointing that the Israeli government seems unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticisms of its actions and hostile political propaganda", he asserted.
In a letter rejecting Shakir's visa application seen by the Guardian, Israel accused the New York- based group of "public activities and reports [and being] engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of "human rights".
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"We have little relations with governments in North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Venezuela where there is zero appetite for human rights engagement", Shakir said. "With this decision, Israel is joining the list".
The characterization of Human Rights Watch promoting Palestinian propaganda does not square with the research and advocacy that the organization conducts to challenge violations of human rights and worldwide humanitarian law by all actors in the region, including the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government in Gaza.
In 2011, Kathleen Peratis, co-chair of the Advisory Committee of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, visited Gaza and met with several Hamas officials.
HRW, a well-known nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of roughly 400 staff members around the globe, has a history of being critical of Israel's many human rights violations, labeled so according to worldwide law and conventions.
Last year, a new law limited foreign funding for NGOs which Israel considers critical of its policies. HRW may appeal the decision within 45 days.
"We are deeply disturbed at the lenient sentence given by the Tel Aviv Military Court earlier this week to an Israeli soldier convicted of unlawfully killing a wounded Palestinian in an apparent extrajudicial execution of an unarmed man who clearly posed no imminent threat", Shamdasani said Friday in Geneva, according to Al Jazeera.
Last year, the government passed a Transparency Law requiring groups that receive more than half their funding from overseas to declare it and Israeli authorities have been accused of doing little to help human rights researchers receiving death threats from nationalists.