Israel Extends Administrative Detention of Palestinian-French Human Rights Worker

Israeli military occupation authorities renewed on Monday, February 26, the administrative detention of Palestinian-French human rights defender Salah Hamouri for an additional four months

Hamouri, who works with the prisoners’ rights group Addameer has been held by Israel since its military forces detained him last August.

Salah Hamouri

Salah Hamouri (Photo: GUE/NGL)

Under administrative detention, a holdover from British colonial rule, Israeli occupation authorities can incarcerate Palestinians without charge or trial for up to 6-month periods that can be renewed indefinitely.

“This news is not a defeat for us, those who have worked since 27 August 2017 to defend the rights of our fellow citizen, but it is a profound defeat for French diplomacy,” Hamouri’s wife Elsa Lefort wrote on Facebook.

She criticized French President Emmanuel Macron, who claims to lead a “strong France but allows himself to be humiliated by Israel and lowers his head when he would be banging his fist on the table if Salah were detained by any other country.”

While Lefort emphasized that her husband is but one of 450 prisoners currently held in administrative detention by Israel, Addameer noted the personal cost to this particular family. “Due to the fact that Hamouri’s wife has been banned from entering Palestine, this extension of his imprisonment means that for yet another four months he will not be able to see his young son,” the group stated.

Addameer dismissed Israel’s claims – unsupported by any charges or evidence – that Hamouri represents a “security threat,” asserting that he is being held for his work which involves documenting the conditions faced by Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

“Ultimately, Salah could just leave this all behind as he is a French national,” Addameer added. “This is why his sacrifice is all the more admirable. Despite the cost, he chooses to stay and struggle towards self-determination.”

Addameer also noted the failure of France’s “closed door diplomacy” and urged French and European Union officials to “publicly condemn the illegal imprisonment of their citizen.” Human Rights Watch has also condemned Hamouri’s detention and urged Macron to raise his case with Israeli leaders.

In contrast to the French government’s inaction, activists across France and Europe have mobilized in Hamouri’s support. Communist and Left members of the French parliament have continued to demand Hamouri’s release with increasing urgency as his detention approached the six-month mark. The municipal government of Ivry on Monday called on Macron to meet with Hamouri’s wife and, earlier this, month hundreds of people rallied in the Paris suburb to demand his freedom. City officials in Pamplona, the capital of Spain’s Navarre province, issued a similar call.

Despite the disappointment that her husband remains behind Israeli bars, Elsa Lefort says the campaign is paying off. She credited the broad mobilization with forcing the French government to take a position on the matter, and even with pushing Macron to address a demand to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his liberation, “though surely expressed very timidly.” “Together we have pushed the boundaries and we will continue to press French authorities to meet their responsibilities,” Lefort said. “We will push them to respect Salah’s rights and do everything necessary to gain his freedom.”

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