The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that France violated the freedom of expression of pro-Palestinian activists who were convicted of campaigning for a boycott of Israeli products and pressuring that country to end the occupation of Palestine.

The ruling refers to a 2009 French justice conviction against 11 activists from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement for “economic discrimination” for protesting and distributing leaflets against Israeli products in a supermarket in eastern France.

BDS has called for boycotts against Israeli companies, universities and cultural institutions in what it says is a non-violent campaign against Israeli abuses in Palestine, while Israel claims that the movement masks attempts to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

“This important court ruling is a decisive victory for freedom of expression, for human rights defenders and for the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality,” said Rita Ahmad of the Palestinian-led movement.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that it has colonized and where the Palestinians want to found an independent State, in the framework of a conflict with recurring spasms of violence that have left hundreds dead.

Most of the international community, including Argentina, considers Israeli settlement in the West Bank illegal and unaware of its annexation of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of their state.

The ECHR ruling orders the French government to pay € 101.00 in general damages to the activists, the BBC reported.

The European court, which is based in the French city of Strasbourg, determined that the criminal conviction “had no relevant and sufficient basis” and violated the freedom of expression of the protesters.

The countries that signed the European Convention on Human Rights, including France, are obliged to comply with the decisions of this court.

Tel Aviv has promoted a number of legislative initiatives against BDS abroad, particularly in the United States and Europe.

The United States House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution last year condemning the boycott of Israel as detrimental to peace efforts.

The German Parliament passed a resolution last year describing the movement’s methods as “anti-Semitic” and reminiscent of Nazi-era calls to boycott Jews.

BDS activists deny the charges of anti-Semitism and say discrimination laws have been used to unfairly attack them.

In 2016, then-head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini said BDS activities were protected by freedom of expression, despite the EU opposing BDS attempts to isolate Israel.

Amnesty International expressed hope that the ruling “will send a clear message to all European states that they must stop the prosecution of peaceful activists.”