On 30 June, French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri was once again detained by Israel. He was seized by occupation forces inside a medical clinic where he was receiving a mandatory coronavirus test, as he had planned to travel to France to spend time with his wife and child and had a flight booked for 4 July. Hamouri and his family are forcibly separated by the Israeli occupation, as his French wife, Elsa Lefort, has been barred by the Israeli occupation from entering Palestine, despite an employment contract with the French consulate in Palestine and a valid visa.
This is not the first time Salah Hamouri was detained before traveling to France to visit with his wife and family. In 2017, he was seized and held for 13 months in administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – once again, only days before a booked and planned flight to France. That arbitrary detention also came only days after Hamouri passed the Palestinian bar examination and was sworn in as a lawyer.
Hamouri is a former Palestinian political prisoner whose case was widely known throughout France as a symbol of injustice and false allegations until his release in 2011 in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange, only a few months before his sentence was to end. He has spoken throughout France and internationally at events like the World Social Forum on Palestinian prisoners and the struggle for freedom.
After this time, he studied law; during his studies, he was banned from the West Bank, preventing him from attending classes at his university. Today Salah Hamouri is a Palestinian human rights defender who works with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association as a lawyer.
During his previous imprisonment, Hamouri’s case won wide support among French popular movements and even elected officials, with over 1,000 signing a call for his release. Nevertheless, French official diplomacy continued to drag its feet rather than defend its citizen, inaugurating the “France-Israel season” while Israel imprisoned a French citizen without charge or trial.
Now, Salah Hamouri is once again detained, held in the notorious Moskobiyeh interrogation center infamous for numerous cases of severe physical and psychological torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against Palestinian detainees. On 1 July, his interrogation was officially extended for seven days, which his lawyers immediately appealed. On 5 July, the appeal for his release was denied by an Israeli court as Salah was “present” via video conference.
The French consulate in Jerusalem has been denied a meeting with Hamouri by Israeli occupation officials, who have also denied him clothing brought to him by his family.
The Ligue des droits de l’Homme (the League for Human Rights) issued a call for the immediate release of Salah Hamouri, denouncing the harassment against this “indefatigable defender of Palestinian human rights” and calling for French and European authorities to take all actions in their power to obtain Hamouri’s liberation.
On Monday, 6 July, Hamouri’s support committee called for a public demonstration at the town hall of Ivry-sur-Seine, calling for his immediate release and meaningful action from French officials.
Of course, it must be noted that France was recently condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for its prosecution and criminalization of activists calling for the boycott of Israel, and it continues to imprison Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine Georges Ibrahim Abdallah for 35 years. Public pressure is critical to compel French officials to take meaningful action to release Salah Hamouri.
The Salah Hamouri support campaign has called on friends of Palestine and those who support Salah to send a message to French officials calling upon them to take action. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network supports this call.
A sample letter, provided by the campaign, and the email addresses for the action are provided below, as is an English translation. If you are a French citizen, please send the French version. International supporters may wish to send the English version or write their own letter!
Monsieur le Consul,
ou Monsieur le Ministre des affaires étrangères,
ou Monsieur le Président de la République,
Le 30 juin 2020, notre compatriote, l’avocat franco-palestinien, défenseur des droits de l’homme, Salah Hamouri, a été arrêté à Jérusalem-Est par l’armée d’occupation dans un centre de santé. Les autorités militaires n’ont donné aucun motif à cette arrestation. Ce 1er juillet, le tribunal a prolongé sa détention jusqu’au 7 juillet.
Le Consulat n’a toujours pas eu de réponse à sa demande de visite de notre compatriote. Sans cette visite consulaire, Salah Hamouri est totalement isolé, pendant 7 jours, dans le centre d’interrogatoire de Moskobiyeh, tristement connu pour ces interrogatoires violents, tortures physiques et psychologiques.
L’arrestation de notre concitoyen est inadmissible et insupportable. Les autorités françaises ne doivent pas laisser passer une telle infamie. Cette situation doit cesser sans délai. La France doit exiger la libération de notre concitoyen qui subit une fois de plus l’arbitraire israélien.
Je vous demande d’œuvrer au nom de la France, pour la libération immédiate de Salah Hamouri.
Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de ma haute considération.
* Consulat Général de France à Jérusalem
* Élysée – Présidence de la République française
Dear Consul (or Minister of Foreign Affairs, or President of the Republic)
On 30 June 2020, the French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender Salah Hamouri, was arrested in East Jerusalem by the occupation army in a health center. The military authorities have given no reason for his arrest. On 1 July, a court prolonged his detention until 7 July.
The consulate has still not received a response to its request to visit this detained French citizen. Without this consular visit, Salah Hamouri is totally isolated for 7 days in the Moskobiyeh interrogation center, unfortunately known for violent interrogations and physical and psychological torture.
The arbitrary arrest of this human rights defender and French citizen is unacceptable and unbearable. The French authorities must not allow these abuses to continue. This situation must end immediately. France must demand the immediate release of this human rights defender who is once against subjected to Israeli arbitrary violations.
I urge you to work actively on behalf of France for the immediate liberation of Salah Hamouri.
Thank you in advance.