#FreeSalahHamouri: Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender ordered to 3 more months in arbitrary detention

On Monday, 6 June, Israeli occupation forces once again ordered Palestinian-French lawyer and human rights defender Salah Hamouri to an additional three months jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. Hamouri is a Palestinian Jerusalemite, born to a Palestinian father and a French mother, and has faced relentless persecution by the Israeli regime, locking him behind bars and attempting to strip his Jerusalem residency and force him into exile.

As the Justice for Salah campaign notes, “His unwavering resistance to regular harassment, arrest, and attempted deportation by Israeli authorities makes him one of the most prominent examples of Palestinian steadfastness, a beloved son of the city, and a symbol of anti-colonial struggle globally.”

The renewal of Hamouri’s administrative detention comes shortly after he joined the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) to file a criminal complaint in France against the NSO Group, the infamous creator of the Israeli “Pegasus” spyware; Hamouri’s phone was found to have been infiltrated by the notorious spy program, used to target activists and journalists around the world.

This was a renewal of his administrative detention; he has originally been seized on 7 March, only days after he published an article in English on his case in Jacobin magazine about his battle against the attempt of the Israeli occupation to forcibly expel him from his home city of Jerusalem.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, where Hamouri works as a lawyer, noted:

Over the years, Salah has been relentlessly targeted by Israeli occupation authorities, subjected to arbitrary arrests, administrative detention without charge or trial, exorbitant fines, travel bans against him and his family, the deportation of his wife and French national Elsa Lefort, and, most recently, the illegal revocation of his permanent residency and forced deportation from Jerusalem on 18 October 2021. Moreover, on 8 November 2021, a Front Line Defenders investigation conducted in collaboration with Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab found that Salah Hammouri had been one of six Palestinian HRDs hacked by Israeli NSO Group’s notorious Pegasus spyware.

Salah Hamouri is a French-Palestinian lawyer and 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.

The Israeli occupation uses the forced revocation of residency for Palestinians from East Jerusalem as a means to displace Palestinians and forcibly create a “Jewish majority” in the occupied city as well as a means to silence Palestinian activists and organizers. As noted by Al-Haq, “Revocation of permanent residency status is the most direct tool used to forcibly transfer Palestinians from East Jerusalem. This policy which has been used by Israel more than 14,500 times between 1967 and 2015, and is illegal under international law.”

In Hamouri’s Jacobin article, he speaks about his current case resisting expulsion from Jerusalem:

Everything Israel’s apartheid regime has done is aimed at silencing me and encouraging me to give up and leave the country, as they do with any Palestinian who refuses to bow their head and submit to ethnic cleansing. Israeli authorities are creating a bespoke plan of harassment for each politically active person, arresting and harassing them, and where this doesn’t work, stripping them of their IDs or health insurance and targeting their family and businesses. They target those that speak out in order to weaken our collective resistance and to more easily expel us.

My own story demonstrates that the Israeli regime is absolutely ruthless, operating with a calculated cruelty that knows no limits. Our family’s enforced separation is intended to inflict suffering, to deny my children a father and the experiences and joys of growing up in their homeland with the love of my extended family. Interactions with my children are limited to stolen moments over video call, attempts to forge and maintain a connection despite the distance.

This isn’t what I want for my children. But it is better they know that I fought for justice rather than passively accepting ethnic cleansing, better that I do all I can to remain steadfast in our land than acquiesce to Israel’s harassment. I am continuing with my struggle because I want all Palestinians to live with freedom and dignity, and I know this will not come without a fight, without sacrifice on the part of those willing to take a stand.

Last year, Palestinians rose in the thousands to defend Jerusalem, sparking an uprising that spread throughout all Palestinians communities in rejection of Israeli colonization. A new generation repeated its commitment to carry forward the struggle for justice, for liberation and for the rights of Palestinian refugees living for decades in exile. As our people have not given up, neither can I, and neither can the millions around the world who support Palestine, and whose commitment to our cause is more important now than ever before.

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, attempting to ban the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and other pro-Palestine associations while a French citizen is jailed without charge or trial in occupied Palestine. French Senator Fabien Gay was denied permission only days ago to visit Hamouri for a parliamentary visit; he noted the lack of official reaction to this further affront to the rights of a French citizen.

Hamouri is currently among nearly 600 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, all of whom are currently engaged in a collective boycott of the occupation military courts in a protest against this arbitrary imprisonment without charge or trial. Two Palestinian administrative detainees, Khalil Awawdeh and Raed Rayan, are facing critical health conditions after 97 and 62 days on hunger strike, respectively. They are among nearly 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners in total imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the ongoing imprisonment of Salah Hamouri, the use of administrative detention to target Palestinian leaders and human rights defenders, and the ongoing Israeli ethnic cleansing project in Jerusalem targeting the Palestinian people and identity of the city, the capital of Palestine. We urge all supporters of Palestine to take action to demand the liberation of Salah Hamouri and every Palestinian prisoner jailed in the occupation prisons.