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HRW calls on Israel to release French-Palestinian rights defender

August 17, 2022 at 9:39 am

Palestinian-French human rights defender Salah Hamouri  in the West Bank city of Ramallah. [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images]

Human Rights Watch yesterday called on Israel to release French-Palestinian human rights defender, Salah Hamouri.

Hamouri was detained from his house in the occupied city of Jerusalem on 7 March 2022. Since then, he has been held under administrative detention without trial or charge, based on secret evidence.

On 17 October 2021 the Israeli Interior Ministry revoked  his residency status on the basis of “breach[ing] allegiance” to Israel. As a result, he is threatened with expulsion from occupied East Jerusalem at any time.

“Israeli authorities should immediately release the French-Palestinian human rights worker Salah Hamouri from administrative detention and reverse the decision to revoke his residency status in his native Jerusalem,” HRW said.

HRW said that international humanitarian law “expressly forbids an occupying power from compelling people under occupation to pledge loyalty to it.”

The rights group pointed out that “residency revocations are among the policies that make up Israeli authorities’ crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians.”

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at HRW, said: “Israeli authorities have detained Salah Hamouri without trial or charges for months, outlawed the human rights group he works for and revoked his legal status in Jerusalem.”

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“Hamouri’s plight embodies the struggle of Palestinian human rights defenders challenging Israel’s apartheid and persecution.”

The Israeli army issued a three-month administrative detention order against him on 10 March and renewed it on 6 June. The order expires on 5 September and can be renewed.

Israeli military courts based their decisions to detain him on secret information they allege points to Hamouri’s involvement in the activities of the outlawed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

According to Addameer, Hamouri said that in July Israeli authorities classified him as a high-security detainee following an open letter he wrote about his plight to French President Emmanuel Macron.

As a result of this designation, the authorities transferred him from Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank to Hadarim Prison in Israel, though international humanitarian law prohibits transferring residents outside of occupied territory.

As of 1 August, Israel held 671 Palestinians in administrative detention, up from an average of 492 between April 2021 and March 2022, according to statistics that the Israeli Prison Service provided to the Israeli rights group HaMoked.