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Israel: Administrative detention for French-Palestinian rights worker

French-Palestinian activist Salah Hamouri [Abachell/Wikipedia]

An Israeli court sentenced Salah Hamouri, a human rights defender and field researcher for Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, to six months of administrative detention yesterday, in what Addameer said was “part of a systematic policy of disempowerment”.

According to the organisation’s statement, the court’s initial decision had been to place Hamouri under house arrest in Al-Reineh, a Palestinian village in Israel, for 20 days. He would then be banned from entering Jerusalem or traveling abroad for three months.

The decision also included bail of 10,000 shekels ($2,800). However, when his family went to Israel’s Russian interrogation compound, where Hamouri has been held, to pay the bail they were told by Israeli officials that Hamouri would not be released.

Thirty-two-year-old Hamouri holds dual Palestinian-French citizenship. He was detained during an overnight raid on his home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Kafr Aqab on 23 August.

Read: French-Palestinian arrested ‘for no reason’ by the Israeli army

According to Addameer, Hamouri was a former prisoner of Israel for seven years, and was released as part of the Wafa Al-Ahrar prisoners exchange deal in 2011.

Addameer said that the East Jerusalem resident was banned from entering the occupied West Bank until September 2016, and that his wife is currently banned by Israeli authorities from entering the occupied Palestinian territory or Israel.

Hamouri’s detention was “one in a list of many”, Addameer said in the statement, as Israel has “attempted to stifle the legitimate pursuit of Palestinian human rights and basic dignity.”

For those who dare to speak up against this oppressive colonial regime, arbitrary detainment awaits

the group added.

Addameer noted that the issue was not just the detention of Hamouri, but Israel’s “systematic policy of disempowerment”.

“The aim is to ensure that any work to supporting the Palestinian quest for self-determination is punished severely. The thinking goes that if enough are punished, and the weight is too much to bear, the rest will be dismayed and accept the status quo. They will be resigned to the fact that are part of a state structure that treats them as subjects, who can be imprisoned and stripped of the rights at will,” Addameer said.

Addameer noted that the group considers administrative detention, which allows Israeli authorities to imprison someone without disclosing any evidence against them, to be a form of “arbitrary detention” and “psychological torture.”

Palestinians could develop a variety of psychological disorders owing to the controversial policy, the group said, including long-term depression and chronic anxiety.

Addameer added that Hamouri was “an example to us all” because he could “easily leave, live in France, and have a quiet life with his wife and child.” But, instead “he remains in the place of his birth and struggles for those who the occupation seeks to reduce from humans to subjects.”

Among the 6,128 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, 450 are administrative detainees, according to collated by the organisation.

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