Israel publishes list of BDS-linked groups banned from entry

A general view shows the Arab village of Bartaa in Wadi Ara which straddles the Green Line between Israel and the Palestinian territories

The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday issued a list of 20 global organizations, which will be denied entry to the country over their support for the "Boycott, Divestment Sanctions" (BDS) campaign against Israel, local media reported.

The NGOs on the banned list include the Paris-based Association France Palestine Solidarite, British charity War on Want, and the American Friends Service Committee - a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US Quaker organization. It follows up on a law passed previous year that bars visits by non-citizens and non-residents who support the boycott or belong to organizations that do.

According to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the regulation does not include those who express political criticism of Israel but only those who have taken significant, ongoing, consistent "material action" to harm Israel through advocating boycotts.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's strategic affairs minister, called the newly-published BDS registry "another step in our work to thwart anti-Israel boycott organisations".

Israel's ministry of strategic affairs, a governmental department, has drawn up the list created to fight the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, known as BDS.

Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, said the blacklist is "a desperate attempt to silence a growing movement that is holding Israel to account for its systematic abuse of Palestinian rights, and persistent violations of worldwide law".

"We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations", AFSC official Kerri Kennedy said.

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The Chief Minister expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for solace to the departed souls. It is reported that 11 passengers are confirmed dead as rescue operations have stopped, as per local reports.

Erdan said on Sunday that the groups "operate consistently and continuously" against Israel using a "campaign of incitement and lies".

CODEPINK co-founder Jodie Evans said, "Israel is obviously threatened by groups like CODEPINK that stand up for the rights of the oppressed".

Asad Rehman, the executive director of War on Want, one of the organizations blacklisted by Israel, said the move is part of a wider crackdown on the BDS movement.

"Israel sees this as a deterrent, but I think that people will be even more dedicated to the cause", he told Al Jazeera, adding that such policies could end up having positive effects for the movement. Along with other human rights organizations, AFSC has spoken out against the Israeli occupation and advocated for the rights of Palestinians, many of whom live without basic access to water, electricity, and medical assistance.

"As the minister in charge of the Israel Entry Law, I made it perfectly clear that I would use my authority to prevent individuals and representatives of groups whose sole goal is to harm Israel and its security, from entering its borders".

"A new crack in the wall of the occupation", tweeted Ayman Odeh, an Arab member of Israel's Knesset.

"Rather than change its disastrous occupation policies, Israel is preoccupying itself with campaigns of harassment against anyone who dares to criticize its inhuman treatment of Palestinians".

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