Salah Hamouri, the imprisoned French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention since March 2022, has been told by occupation prison administrators in Hadarim prison that he will be forcibly deported to France and stripped of his Jerusalem ID on Sunday, 4 December. His detention is scheduled to expire on 4 December, upon which he could be released home to Jerusalem, face yet another extension of his arbitrary detention or be forcibly deported to France.
Hamouri has been fighting the attempt to forcibly exile him to France since 2021, when the Israeli occupation interior minister issued an order stripping Hamouri of his residency in Jerusalem, the city in which he was born and in which he lives, after multiple threats to do so. When he was seized from his home in March 2022, it was 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.
The Justice for Salah campaign is calling for a Twitter storm on Thursday, 1 December, from 3 pm to 5 pm Jerusalem time (5 am to 7 am Pacific time, 8 am to 10 am Eastern time, 2 pm to 4 pm central Europe) to demand justice and liberation in Palestine for Salah Hamouri. Follow the latest updates from the campaign website.
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.
Hamouri’s 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.
In 2016, Hamouri’s French wife, Elsa Lefort, was expelled from occupied Palestine. At the time, she was pregnant. Since that date, she has been banned from entering Israel on the ludicrous basis that she poses “a danger to the security of the State of Israel.” As a result, Israel has forced Salah to live apart from his wife and children. He has also been repeatedly arrested (13 months jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention in 2018-2019; detained for one week in 2020; currently detained without charge or trial for over 200 days.) He is constantly subjected to interrogation and questioning and denied the ability to travel and visit his family and France. All of this is a daily form of painful psychological torture imposed on Salah and his family.
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 resistance to expulsion from Palestine, and his home city 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.
Hamouri is currently among approximately 820 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of approximately 4,700 total Palestinian political prisoners in total imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the attempt to strip Salah Hamouri of his Jerusalemite identity and his Palestinian presence in the land of Palestine. We demand an end to 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.