The Observatory has been informed about the imminent deportation of Mr Salah Hammouri from his hometown Jerusalem in Palestine to France. Salah Hammouri 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 Hammouri 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 Hammouri 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. Hammouri 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 Hammouri, 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 Hammouri’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 Hammouri 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 Hammouri’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 Hammouri were confiscated. He was then bound with a plastic zip-tie and escorted out. Salah Hammouri 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 Hammouri’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 Hammouri, 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 Hammouri 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 Hammouri 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 Hammouri was extended again by three months.
On September 25, 2022, 30 detainees, including Salah Hammouri, 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 Hammouri in solitary confinement and subjected him to inhumane treatment.
At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Salah Hammouri 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 Hammouri in Jerusalem based on “breach of allegiance”. On October 18, 2021, the revocation of Mr Hammouri’s permanent residency became official. Mr Hammouri’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 Hammouri 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. Hammouri”. Additionally, Salah Hammouri’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 Hammouri and to maintain his permanent residency in Jerusalem.
The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the imminent deportation of Salah Hammouri 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 Hammouri, 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 Hammouri 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 Hammouri, to refrain from implementing the deportation order and to ensure Salah Hammouri’s right to travel abroad and return to Israel freely. The French authorities should urge their Israeli counterpart to authorise Salah Hammouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort and their children to freely re-enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
How You Can Help
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 Hammouri and all other Palestinian human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel;
ii. Refrain from implementing the deportation order of Salah Hammouri from his country and hometown Jerusalem;
iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hammouri, 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 Hammouri, his family, and all Palestinian human rights defenders, including stopping all acts of persecution against them;
v. Ensure Salah Hammouri’s right to travel abroad and return to Jerusalem freely; authorise Salah Hammouri’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.
Please also write to the authorities of France urging them to:
i. Urge the authorities of Israel authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Salah Hammouri 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 Hammouri from his country and hometown Jerusalem; ensure Salah Hammouri’s right to travel abroad and return to Jerusalem freely; and authorise Salah Hammouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort, a French national, and their children to freely re-enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
• Mr. Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; Twitter: @naftalibennett
• Mr. Benny Gantz, Minister of Defense; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @gantzbe
• Mr. Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ms. Ayelet Shaked, Minister of the Interior; Twitter: @Ayelet__Shaked
• Mr. Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Justice; E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;Twitter: @gidonsaar
• Mr. Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney; Email: email@example.com
• H.E. Ambassador Ms. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• H.E. Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar; Mission of Israel to the European Union and NATO; Email: email@example.com
• 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.