Israel deports Palestinian-French human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri

Israel deported the French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri to France (Abbas Momani - AFP)

Reuters  /  December 18, 2022

Hamouri, a Jerusalem resident without Israeli citizenship, was detained under administrative detention without charge in March.

Israel has deported French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri, accusing him of security offences against the state of Israel, the Israeli interior ministry said in a statement.

Hamouri was escorted early on Sunday morning to the airport, where he boarded a flight to France, with his campaign saying there was no legal recourse for him to take.

Hamouri, 37, a Jerusalem resident without Israeli citizenship, had his residency status revoked on 1 December on charges that he was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, classified by Israel and its western allies as a terror group.

“During his life he organized, inspired and planned to commit terror attacks on his own and for the organization against citizens and well-known Israelis,” a statement from the interior ministry said.

A statement from the Hamouri campaign called the deportation a “war crime” and said it constituted a breach of international law.

“Wherever a Palestinian goes, he takes with him these principles and the cause of his people: his homeland carried with him to wherever he ends up,” Hamouri said in a statement.

Hamouri was most recently detained by Israel under administrative detention without charge on 7 March until 1 December, when Israel revoked his residency and stated he would be deported.

He was previously detained by Israel between 2005 and 2011 after being accused of attempting to assassinate Sephardi rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, but has always maintained his innocence.

Hamouri was released in December 2011 as part of an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier released in October 2011 after five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Hamas.

The French consulate in Jerusalem had no immediate comment on Sunday.

The overwhelming majority of East Jerusalem’s more than 340,000 Palestinians hold Israeli residency permits but few have citizenship in Israel, which considers the entire holy city as its eternal, undivided capital.

The Palestinians have long sought the city’s east, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally, as capital of a future state.

Jessica Montell, executive director of HaMoked, which represents Hamouri, told Reuters that other Jerusalem residents had been charged with breach of allegiance and had their residency revoked in the past but could not be deported as they held no other citizenship.

Hamouri’s case, therefore, set a precedent for the deportation of Jerusalemites who held alternative citizenship, Montell said.

“Because he holds a second nationality, that makes him more vulnerable to deportation,” said Montell, adding that she expected similar cases would emerge more frequently with a new rightwing coalition expected to form Israel’s next government.

“We can only expect that all of these measures will accelerate with this new government coming in.”