Israel orders forcible deportation of Palestinian human rights defender Salah Hammouri

Salah Hammouri (Yumna Patel - MW)

Yumna Patel

Mondoweiss  /  December 1, 2022

Rights groups fear the Israeli decision to deport Salah Hammouri and revoke his Jerusalem residency could set a dangerous precedent for Jerusalemites.

Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri, who is currently imprisoned by Israel, has been ordered by the Israeli state to be deported on December 4th, following the revocation of his Jerusalem residency status. 

Last year the Israeli government revoked the Jerusalem residency of Hammouri, a dual Palestinian-French citizen who was born in Jerusalem, on the basis of “breach of allegiance” to the state. The decision comes after an Israeli Supreme Court ruling back in July that allowed for stripping citizenship or Jerusalem residency status from those found in “breach of loyalty” to the state.

Over the past two decades, Hammouri has spent more than eight years in Israeli prisons, with several stints in administrative detention – a policy used by Israel against Palestinians allowing for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

According to the official Justice for Salah campaign, Hammouri was notified on Wednesday by the Israeli Prison Service that his forcible deportation was scheduled for Sunday December 4, 2022. 

“Israel’s policy of revoking Palestinian residency rights in Jerusalem amounts to a war crime and feeds into their oppression and domination over the Palestinians,” the campaign wrote on their Twitter account, along with a call to French President Emmanuel Macron “not to be a part of the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalemites.”

Prisoners’ rights group Addameer also tweeted they were “alarmed by the imminent forcible deportation of Salah Hammouri, who is currently under detention w/o charge.”

Hammouri is currently being held in Israeli prison under an administrative detention order. He was arrested back in March, a day after he published an article in Jacobin Magazine detailing his years of imprisonment and the government’s decision to revoke his residency status. 

Since he was imprisoned in March, Hammouri has sent appeals to Macron and the ICC, demanding pressure on Israel to release him from prison and stop his deportation order. 

‘Breach of Allegiance’

The deportation order for Hammouri came just over one year after his residency status was revoked, which paved the way for his eventual deportation, something Israel’s then Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked advocated heavily for at the time. 

Shaked, who has infamously called for the mass killing of Palestinians, cited allegations of “terroristic activities” and/or affiliation with “terrorist entities,” based on withheld “secret information.”

Addameer slammed Shaked’s decision at the time for being “intentionally vague,” and reminiscent of Israeli administrative detention orders, in which Palestinians are held without charge or trial, often based on “secret evidence.”

Shaked’s decision also went on to cite Hammouri’s past history of arrests, most of which were also under administrative detention

“Notably, the Ministry explicitly alludes to the notable escalation of permanent residency revocation of Palestinian Jerusalemites for “breach of allegiance,” as exemplified by the case of Salah Hammouri, by stating that the decision was necessary “to deter others from breaching allegiance to the State of Israel’,” Addameer said in a statement.

Addameer said that the decision to revoke Hammouri’s residency was the culmination of years of targeted harassment by the Israeli government against Hammouri for his human rights work. 

In addition to years of arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, Hammouri has been subject to travel bans, the deportation of his wife (who is a French national) in 2016, thus separating him from his wife and son, and most recently an Israeli spyware hack that targeted his personal devices. 

‘Dangerous precedent’

Hammouri was born and raised in Jerusalem, and has called the city his home his entire life. He is one of more than 370,000 Palestinians residents of Jerusalem, which was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967.

Following Israel’s annexation of the city, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem were given “permanent residency status,” meaning they carry Jerusalem ID cards and live under Israeli rule, but are not considered citizens of the state, unlike Jewish residents of the city who boast full citizenship and national rights. 

Due to a series of discriminatory laws and practices, Palestinian Jerusalemites can have their residency status revoked by the state at any time for a number of reasons, leaving them stateless. 

It’s a practice that Israel has been enforcing for decades, as part of what Palestinians say is an attempt to change the demographic nature of the city, which Israel claims as its capital, and Palestinians seek as the capital of their future state. 

According to a 2018 report from Human Rights Watch, at least 14,595 Palestinians from Jerusalem have had their residency revoked by Israel since 1967. 

One of the most common tactics used by Israel to revoke someone’s Jerusalem residency, is based on a failure to prove a “center of life” in Jerusalem upon inspection by authorities. Palestinian Jerusalemites who live abroad, or are married to Palestinians from outside Jerusalem and live with their spouses outside of the city are commonly subject to such scrutiny and subsequent status revocation. Once someone’s status is revoked, it essentially leaves them stateless. 

Human Rights Watch pointed out in its report that in recent years, Israel has also revoked residency status to “punish Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis and as collective punishment against relatives of suspected assailants.”

“The discriminatory system pushes many Palestinians to leave their home city in what amounts to forcible transfers, a serious violation of international law,” the rights group said. 

Rights groups and activists have expressed fears that the deportation of Hammouri will set a dangerous precedent for other Palestinians in the city, who could be forced out of their homes for their human rights work, if deemed by the state as a “breach of allegiance.”

With the most right-wing government in Israel’s history recently elected into power, with ministers who have openly advocated for the revocation of citizenship and forced expulsion of Palestinian ministers of Israel’s government, the consequences of Hammouri’s deportation could be far-reaching. 

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss