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Urgent Interventions

Israel/oPT: Human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri at risk of deportation to France

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
ISR 001 / 0720 / OBS 076.6
At risk of deportation /
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial and administrative harassment
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
December 3, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the international Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed about the imminent deportation of Mr Salah Hamouri from his hometown Jerusalem in Palestine to France. Salah Hamouri is a French-Palestinian human rights defender and lawyer in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, arbitrarily imprisoned by Israeli settler-colonial and apartheid regime since March 7, 2022.

On November 30, 2022, the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) notified verbally Salah Hamouri that he was due to attend a deportation hearing the next day in front of the Population, Immigration and Border Authority.

On December 1, 2022, Salah Hamouri was brought to Givon Prison in Ramleh to attend his deportation hearing, without the presence of his lawyer. In addition, the judge denied Mr Matthieu Clouvel Gervaiseau, Consul General of France in Tel Aviv, access to the deportation hearing. Mr Hamouri was informed that he would be forcibly deported to France upon the completion of his administrative detention period which is due to end on December 4, 2022. He was told that the basis of this deportation decision is “breach of allegiance" to Israel. Should this measure be implemented, Salah Hamouri, who was born and has lived in Jerusalem since 1985, would be permanently expelled from his country of origin without being able to return.

Due to the absence of lawyers at the hearing on December 1, and after the request of Salah Hamouri’s legal representatives to be granted access to a hearing on the deportation order, the Israeli authorities scheduled a new hearing on December 6, 2022. Mr Hamouri will most likely be kept in a deportation detention center until the day of the hearing.

The Observatory recalls that on March 7, 2022, about 25 members of Israeli occupying forces broke the door of Salah Hamouri’s apartment in Kufr Aqab, north of Jerusalem, entered into his bedroom and grabbed him from his bed while still sleeping. The premises were raided and searched, and three mobile phones and one laptop belonging to Mr Hamouri were confiscated. He was then bound with a plastic zip-tie and escorted out. Salah Hamouri was first brought to Ofer prison in Ramallah, and then transferred to Al-Moskobiya detention centre in Jerusalem.

On March 9, 2022, Ofer military court extended Salah Hamouri’s detention for 48 hours on the basis of the Emergency Law of 1945.

On March 10, 2022, the Israeli military commander issued a four-month administrative detention order against Salah Hamouri, which allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.

On June 4, 2022, the administrative detention of Salah Hamouri was extended by three months. The Israeli military justice sent the order directly to his lawyer, without any judgment nor court appearance.

On July 26, 2022, Mr Hamouri was subjected to a punitive classification as a “high risk prisoner” and transferred to Hadarim high security isolation prison as a reprisal for writing an open letter from prison to the French President Emmanuel Macron, dated on 14 July 2022.

On September 4, 2022, the administrative detention of Salah Hamouri was extended again by three months.

On September 25, 2022, 30 detainees, including Salah Hamouri, went on hunger strike to protest the administrative detention imposed on them and 740 other Palestinian prisoners. In response to this action, the authorities placed Mr Hamouri in solitary confinement and subjected him to inhumane treatment.

At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Salah Hamouri is unaware of the accusations against him, as his file is being kept secret and his lawyer is not allowed to consult it, which makes his detention illegal under international law.

The Observatory further recalls that on June 29, 2021, the Israeli Minister of the Interior announced the adoption of recommendations made by the Israeli intelligence services to revoke the permanent residency of Salah Hamouri in Jerusalem based on “breach of allegiance”. On October 18, 2021, the revocation of Mr Hamouri’s permanent residency became official. Mr Hamouri’s lawyer challenged this decision and the Israeli Supreme Court was expected to rule on the withdrawal of his identity card in February 2023.

Salah Hamouri has been harassed for years and has been arbitrarily detained several times by the Israeli authorities because of his peaceful human rights activities. On October 14, 2020, United Nations human rights experts expressed their concerns in a letter to the Israeli authorities about the “misuse of administrative and criminal law proceedings against Mr Hamouri”. Additionally, Salah Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort, a French national, and their children, have been banned by Israeli authorities from entering Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2016.

On October 19, 2022, UN human rights experts called on Israel to immediately release Salah Hamouri and to maintain his permanent residency in Jerusalem.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the imminent deportation of Salah Hamouri to France, which would constitute a blatant breach of international law, as forcibly deporting inhabitants of an occupied territory is prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as recalled by UN human rights experts on December 2, 2022, and considered a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute. This deportation would set a dangerous precedent for all Palestinian human rights defenders based in Jerusalem, as it would severely hinder their ability to carry out their legitimate activities. The Observatory calls on the Israeli authorities to refrain from implementing the deportation order and to respect, in any circumstances, international humanitarian and human rights law.

The Observatory further expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial and administrative harassment of Salah Hamouri, as it seems to be only aimed at punishing him for the exercise of his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hamouri and to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative levels, against him and all other human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Observatory further calls on the French authorities to urge the authorities of Israel to immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hamouri, to refrain from implementing the deportation order and to ensure Salah Hamouri’s right to travel abroad and return to Israel freely. The French authorities should urge their Israeli counterpart to authorise Salah Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort and their children to freely re-enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Israel urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and the psychological well-being of Salah Hamouri and all other Palestinian human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel;

ii. Refrain from implementing the deportation order of Salah Hamouri from his country and hometown Jerusalem;

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hamouri, as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative levels, against Salah Hamouri, his family, and all Palestinian human rights defenders, including stopping all acts of persecution against them;

v. Ensure Salah Hamouri’s right to travel abroad and return to Jerusalem freely; authorise Salah Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort, a French national, and their children to freely re-enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories and those of protected Palestinian people in accordance with international human rights instruments.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel; Email: nbennett@knesset.gov.il, pm_eng@pmo.gov.il; Twitter: @naftalibennett
  • Mr. Benny Gantz, Minister of Defense; Email: bgantz@knesset.gov.il; Twitter: @gantzbe
  • Mr. Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Email: sar@mfa.gov.il, ylapid@knesset.gov.il
  • Ms. Ayelet Shaked, Minister of the Interior; Twitter: @Ayelet__Shaked
  • Mr. Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Justice; E-mail: sar@justice.gov.il, gsaar@knesset.gov.il;Twitter: @gidonsaar
  • Mr. Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney; Email: state-attorney@justice.gov.il
  • H.E. Ambassador Ms. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il
  • H.E. Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar; Mission of Israel to the European Union and NATO; Email: ambassador-sec-eu@brussels.mfa.gov.il

Please also write to the authorities of France urging them to:

i. Urge the authorities of Israel authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hamouri as well as to guarantee his physical integrity and psychological well-being;

ii. Urge the authorities of Israel to refrain from implementing the deportation order of Salah Hamouri from his country and hometown Jerusalem; ensure Salah Hamouri’s right to travel abroad and return to Jerusalem freely; and authorise Salah Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort, a French national, and their children to freely re-enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, Twitter: @EmmanuelMacron
  • Ms. Elisabeth Borne, Prime Minister, Twitter: @Elisabeth_Borne
  • Ms. Catherine Colonna, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Twitter: @MinColonna

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Israel and France in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, December 3, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· Tel OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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