On Monday morning, occupation Israeli forces raided the home of Palestinian human rights activist and lawyer Salah Hamouri, before taking him into custody. The move came the day after he published an op-ed in Jacobin, detailing the judicial harassment to which he and his family have been subjected for sixteen years.
Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri (Photo: French Communist Party)
Palestinian media reports that Hamouri was taken from his home to the Ofer detention center near Ramallah in the occupied territories. It cited a member of Addameer, the prisoners’ rights group for which Hamouri has long worked as a lawyer, saying that Israeli authorities have issued no information about his current status. His allies fear that the arrest could be the prelude to his deportation or even “administrative detention” – meaning up to six months in jail, without charges. The thirty-six-year-old has repeatedly been subject to such prison spells, from his teenage years to as recently as 2020, without ever being put on trial. Hamouri has already spent a total of over a decade in Israeli prisons.
Hamouri has refused to leave Palestine; in his Jacobin op-ed, he explains that Israeli authorities are trying to terrorize him into leaving, as part of their wider endeavor to drive Palestinians from their homeland. In recent months he had been living in Kufr Aqab, to the north of Jerusalem, after being stripped of his residency permit for his native city on grounds of “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel”, a new colonial mechanism introduced in 2018. A native son of Jerusalem, in September 2020 he was informed that the Israeli Ministry of the Interior intended to strip him of his permanent residence card, a decision upheld by the Israeli High Court upon appeal in December 2021. He has also been deprived of his medical insurance.
Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort, and their two children have lived in France since she was deported, while pregnant, from the Tel Aviv airport in 2016. In an interview with Le Courrier de l’Atlas last month, Lefort highlighted the injustice of the pretext used against Hamouri, noting that “Jerusalem has been occupied territory since 1967 and people like my husband who live under occupation cannot be bound to loyalty toward the occupying power.” Le Courrier de l’Atlas also cited Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem to the effect that some 15,000 Palestinians have similarly been stripped of their residence cards for the city.
Israeli authorities have previously offered Hamouri the “choice” of being deported as an alternative to being jailed. His refusal to bow to such pressure is an act of resistance in the face of the ongoing project to colonize Palestinian occupied territories and replace its population with settlers.
The op-ed published by Att. Salah Hamouri in Jacobin: