At a time when the Israeli occupation authorities are preparing to deport French-Palestinian Jerusalemite human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri, local and international human rights organisations have described the move as a war crime. Two other Palestinians with dual nationalities are also now at risk of being deported.
Born to a French mother and a Palestinian father, Hamouri works for Addameer Foundation for Legal Assistance to Prisoners, one of the six civil society organisations declared to be “terrorist” groups by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz in October 2021. Moreover, Hamouri is one of six Palestinian human rights activists who had Pegasus spyware implanted in their phones, according to an investigation conducted by Amnesty International.
The “terrorist” designation was apparently based on “secret evidence”. Right-wing Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said that, “The deportation of Hamouri came on the basis… that he is active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, despite his lawyer’s denial of these accusations.” She has ordered the deportation to go ahead after completing all procedures against the refusal of his residency. Two appeals submitted to the Supreme Court in occupied Jerusalem have been rejected.
Israeli human rights activist Oren Ziv revealed on the local Conversation website that, “After cancelling his [Jerusalem] residency, the Israeli occupation intends to deport Hamouri, who has been detained since March under administrative detention.”
The latest administrative detention order ended a few days ago, when Hamouri was sent to a prison run by the Immigration Service. “Shaked’s statement alleged that Hamouri promoted hostile acts from a young age, and took advantage of being a resident of Israel for these acts, including plotting to carry out an attack on Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former leader of the Shas religious movement, knowing that the interior minister is authorised to deprive permanent residents of their status in cases where they commit an act that constitutes a violation of trust in the occupying state,” explained Ziv.
“Hamouri was held in administrative detention in 2017 for his activity in the PFLP, which Israel classifies as a ‘terrorist’ organisation. After banning Palestinian civil society organisations, and after depriving him of his status, administrative detention procedures began in accordance with military law, as is customary with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, although he is a resident of occupied Jerusalem.” What’s more, added Ziv, the Israeli occupation claims that Hamouri has information about “hostile activity”. He was tried for planning to assassinate Yosef in 2005, sentenced to seven years in prison, and released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal.
Lawyer Danny Shanhar stressed that the story of the rabbi and the intention to deport him is a double punishment and retroactive application of the law. Furthermore, the additional allegation that he is being deported because he has not been loyal to Israel contradicts international law, which prohibits the occupying state from forcing residents under its control to swear allegiance to it. Hamouri’s case thus exposes a threat to all Jerusalemites who, through the interior and justice ministries, Israel insists must show loyalty to the state.
Since the news broke about the intention to deport him, a number of human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, have called on the French government and President Emmanuel Macron to block the move. Israel has prevented Hamouri’s French wife and children from entering the occupied Palestinian territories for the past six years. This week, the French foreign ministry announced that it is monitoring Hamouri’s situation closely at the highest level. Macron has apparently spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and French opposition groups have also called for the deportation to be cancelled.
Israeli human rights lawyer Leah Tsimel has pointed out that she cannot predict how Hamouri will behave when they try to put him on a plane, but international law prohibits the transfer of a person to another country against his or her will.