“Our motto should be: Resistance, Liberation, Return”: Salah Hamouri steadfast after forced deportation to France

Photo: Activestills.org

French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender, Salah Hamouri, was forcibly deported to France this morning, Sunday, 18 December, an action that constitutes yet another Israeli war crime against the Palestinian people. It appears that the Israeli occupation regime sought to use the World Cup finals — in which France will appear against Argentina — as a distraction and a shield as they forcibly uproot another Palestinian from his homeland and home city, Jerusalem.

“Despite decades of harassment, Salah has never surrendered his dignity and his basic demand to remain in his beloved hometown. His tenacity and love for al-Quds represents the unwavering Palestinian connection to the city in the face decades of the most brutal policies against its residents. Yet this brutality has done nothing to sever the Palestinian connection, or to dampen their commitment to steadfastness, sumud, by remaining in Palestine, and al-Quds particularly,” the Justice for Salah campaign noted.

Salah was greeted at the airport by over 200 friends, family members, activists, supporters and elected officials from a wide range of organizations.

Samidoun Paris Banlieue members participated in the delegation of welcoming and struggle, which included many mayors and elected deputies from the French Communist Party, France Insoumise and EELV, along with representatives from the Association France-Palestine Solidarite (AFPS), BDS, Amnesty International, UJFP, Collectif Boycott Israël Apartheid – Paris Banlieue and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme. Slogans rang out through the halls of Charles de Gaulle Airport, terminal 2C: “Palestine vivra, Palestine vaincra!” (Palestine lives, Palestine will win!) Signs and banners welcoming Salah and avowing that he is a citizen of Jerusalem joined Palestinian flags in the crowd.

When he arrived, he directed his first words to the supporters who flocked to greet him, declaring that this journey has only just begun and that the struggle continues:

“Today, brutally torn from my homeland, by this occupying force, which continues its ethnic cleansing since 1948 until today. Today, I am more convinced that this machine of destruction, which is called Israel, will retreat only before a project of Palestinian resistance. For me, Palestine is a cause, not a geography. I’m changing locations, but the fight continues with you.”

“We always speak of liberation and return, and we will continue to speak of liberation and return….Palestine is our cause, and we stand by our cause to ensurre that our next generation does not suffer what we suffer. Our motto should be: Resistance, Liberation, Return. We stand by this motto and we will continue.”

“I will continue the struggle for my right to live in Jerusalem and in my homeland. Just because the state of Israel expelled me does not mean that I will not return. The Israelis are not stronger than the Americans, and the Palestinians are not weaker than the Vietnamese.”

As the Committee to Support Salah Hamouri noted, “This expulsion could not have taken place if the French authorities, first and foremost the President of the Republic, had not shown cowardly complacency vis-à-vis this “rogue state” which commits crimes of all kinds with complete impunity.” Rather than refusing to accept a deportation order for Salah Hamouri, France has continued efforts to attempt to criminalize the boycott of Israel — despite a clear rebuke from the European Court of Human Rights — and ban organizations working for justice in Palestine, like the Collectif Palestine Vaincra.

The forced deportation is the latest outrage committed by the ISraeli regime against Hamouri, a French-Palestinian lawyer, born in Jerusalem, who has been repeatedly targeted for administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. He has been jailed arbitrarily since March 2022 and has been fighting the attempt to strip him of his residency rights and deport him from his native Jerusalem since 2021 on the basis of “breach of allegiance” to the colonial occupation, an act constituting a war crime. His wife and children are barred from entering Palestine, forcing him to live apart from his family. He was one of six Palestinian human rights defenders who were proven to be surveilled through the infamous “Pegasus” spyware sold by the NSO group. He was imprisoned for 7 years until his release in 2011, in a case that became well-known, especially in France, as an example of the illegitimacy and injustice of the Israeli system of incarceration.

As the International Association of Democratic Lawyers stated in a resolution demanding Salah Hamouri’s release from detention and free return to Jerusalem, “Israeli authorities routinely use the forced revocation of the residency of Jerusalemite Palestinians as a means to displace indigenous Palestinians and create a “Jewish majority” in occupied Jerusalem, as well as to silence and suppress Palestinian human rights defenders, organizers and political representatives. Between 1967 and 2015 alone, at least 14,500 Palestinian Jerusalemites have been stripped of their Jerusalem identity and expelled from their home city, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.”

The Justice for Salah campaign statement continued: “Salah will be reunited with his wife and children from whom he has been cruelly separated for some time. As he adjusts to life in exile, he will be surrounded not just by their love but that of millions of his compatriots – particular the Palestinians of Jerusalem – for whom he will always be the city’s most beloved son, and an exemplar of steadfastness and self-sacrifice in the struggle for liberation.

Like the millions of other Palestinians now in exile, Salah will struggle for his right to return to his homeland. His expulsion – however painful in the present – is but one stepping stone on the long road to liberation, a road paved by the sacrifices of Palestine’s heroes and their indefatigable will for freedom.”

Immediately before his deportation, Salah sent a recorded message to the Palestinian people: No forced deportation nor the act of ethnic clansng will scare me nd nothing will deter us from the chocie of resistance. there is no power on this planet that can uproot Palestine an the Palestinian people from our soul and heart…I leave you today from prison to exile, but rest assured that I will always remain the person you know, always loyal to you and your freedom. You will remain my only compass, until we meet again and I embrace you in Jerusalem, the Galilee and Haifa…I will remain loyal to you forever and ever and ever.”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Salah Hamouri, his steadfastness and his commitment to the liberation of Palestine despite the most devastating circumstances he confronts on a daily basis. It is clear that the Zionist regime must be held accountable for its crimes today — part and parcel of its 75 years of crimes against the Palestinian people as a whole. We pledge to work for the return of Salah Hamouri and the return of all exiled Palestinians to their homes and lands, from Jerusalem to the river to the sea, in a liberated Palestine. Salah’s words today, invoking the triumph of the Vietnamese people over U.S. imperialism and avowing the path forward, of resistance, liberation and return, continue to inspire us to act, mobilize and march toward victory for Palestine and the Palestinian people.