Thirty Palestinians held in administrative detention in Israel for their political activism without charge or trial have entered their second week of hunger strike in protest against their incarceration and demanding their freedom, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).
Att. Salah Hamouri (Photo: WAFA)
It said that the Israel Prison Services (IPS) punished 28 of the hunger strikers by isolating them in four cells at Ofer military and detention camp near Ramallah while one prisoner, Palestinian-French Att. Salah Hammouri, was placed in solitary confinement in Hadarim prison in the north of Israel, and another, Ghassan Zawahreh, was taken to isolation the Negev desert prison in the south.
Salah Hamouri, 37, a father of two from occupied East Jerusalem, has been held in administrative detention since 7 March, and his detention order has been renewed until at least early December based on undisclosed evidence.
Hamouri has been imprisoned by Israel on several previous occasions, including serving a seven-year sentence between 2005-11 for his alleged role in a plot to assassinate a chief rabbi. After maintaining his innocence during three years of pre-trial detention, he eventually took a plea bargain on the advice of his lawyer in order to avoid a 14-year-sentence or deportation to France, which would most likely mean losing his Israel-issued Jerusalem residency.
In 2016, his pregnant wife, French national Elsa Lefort, was deported after arriving at Tel Aviv’s airport and given a 10-year entry ban. She and the couple’s two young children live in France, and have not been allowed to visit or even speak to Hamouri on the phone since he was detained in March. “Salah has never stopped being vocal about the occupation. He is always speaking at events in France and tours, talking about the conditions of political prisoners and other violations,” said a spokesperson for #JusticeforSalah. “Treating him like this is a way to try and silence him, to break him, and send a message to other human rights defenders.”
Of the four legal cases Hamouri is fighting, one is of particular concern to rights organizations: in a legal first, the lawyer’s Jerusalem residency was revoked in October 2021 on the grounds of a “breach of allegiance” to the Israeli state, based on secret evidence. A final hearing in the residency case is scheduled for February 2023.
There are currently more than 780 Palestinians held in administrative detention, including six minors and two women, said the PPS, adding that Israel issued 9500 administrative detention orders against Palestinians since 2015 until today, of which 1385 were issued since the start of this year, while the highest number was in August and reached 272 orders.
The PPS said 400 Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike since 2011 until now, most of them were administrative detainees who went on hunger strike in protest against their long detention without charge or trial and most of them were able to regain their freedom after going on hunger strike, some after more than 100 days.