Conflicts & War

Israel deports Palestinian-French lawyer after 9 months in detention

Jerusalem, Dec 18 (EFE).- Israel has deported Palestinian-French human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri to France after more than nine months in detention, the interior ministry said Sunday.

Hammouri’s deportation comes two weeks after he was stripped of his residency status in occupied East Jerusalem over an alleged “breach of allegiance” to Israel.

“The sentence for the terrorist Salah Hammouri has been completed and he has been deported from Israel,” outgoing interior minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement.

“This was a long and protracted process and it is a tremendous achievement that I was able to bring about his deportation just before the end of my duties, using the tools at my disposal to advance the fight against terrorism.

“I hope the incoming government will continue along these lines and deport terrorists from Israel.”

After he landed in Paris, 37-year-old Hammouri, born to a Palestinian father and a French mother, told Efe over the phone that the French government “should have done more” to prevent his deportation.

“France should have done more, pressed more, to avoid my being expelled from the homeland, Palestine,” Hammouri said as he disembarked an Israeli airline Elal flight at the Charles de Gaulle airport.

Hammouri also said that the “fight is not over,” and added that he was hoping to meet with French authorities over the coming days.

He said the flight to France was “complicated” because he was handcuffed most of the time.

The French foreign ministry said shortly after Hammouri’s arrival that they have “made every effort” to stop his deportation but to no avail.

The lawyer has been held in administrative detention by Israel since March, a decision condemned by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the French government.

Last week, an Israeli court ruled that Hammouri would remain “until further notice” in administrative detention, under which Israel usually holds Palestinians indefinitely, without formal charge or trial.

Hammouri, born and raised in Jerusalem, was accused of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PELP), a group that Israel has classified as terrorist.

His defense denied the accusations and stressed there was no evidence to prove it.

“Such a move (deportation) constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law of forcible deportation of a civilian from occupied territories,” Justice for Salah, an official Palestinian civil society campaign for Hammouri, wrote on Twitter.

Justice for Salah says that what the lawyer is going through comes “in line with the systematic psychological torture the Israeli apartheid regime inflicts on Salah, his family and all his supporters and loved ones.”

France has rejected Hammouri’s residence status revocation and said that he must be able to lead a normal life in Jerusalem.

Hammouri’s situation is similar to the majority of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who only have resident status rather than citizenship.

Of the 350,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, only about 20,000 hold Israeli citizenship. A few people apply to become citizens but two-thirds of applications get rejected. EFE


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