For a second time, the Israeli government is carrying out a ruthless onslaught against Salah Hamouri and his family. Salah was born in Palestine. He is Palestinian. After having spent 7 years of his young life in an Israeli prison for fabricated and baseless allegations, Salah Hamouri was finally released 3 years ago.
Although free, Salah Hamouri is still subject to many arbitrary and cruel military orders that restrain his freedom of movement, his day-to-day life, and his academic studies (law), and thereby completely undermine his desires and plans to live the life of a normal citizen.
In May 2014, Salah Hamouri married Elsa Lefort, a French citizen and employee for the French Consulate in Jerusalem. Eventually all the correct paperwork was issued, but not before many weeks of waiting and obstructions had elapsed due to the fact that Salah and Elsa reside in occupied East Jerusalem, under Israeli jurisdiction. As the wedding was duly registered with the correct authorities and paperwork, Elsa should have received, but didn’t, a Spouse Visa, allowing her freedom of movement, across all of Israel and Jordan, as well as being able to travel abroad and return unobstructed to this country. Elsa became pregnant, and the baby is due in March 2016.
After an entire year of formalities, Elsa’s request for a Spouse Visa was formally turned down. The reason given to her was that her husband “poses a security threat to Israel.” However, through her employer, Elsa was able to obtain a Work Visa, allowing her to travel freely until October, 2016. Clearly this visa was issued and authorized by the Israeli officialdom.
Knowing that, with the Work Visa, she could now travel without obstruction, Elsa flew to France on December 21, 2015 to visit her family and arrived back at Ben Gurion airport on January 5, 2016. There was no reason for her to suspect that her life was about to become a nightmare. When she disembarked at Ben Gurion, Elsa was denied entry into the country “for not having a Spouse Visa” (again, she did have a valid work visa!). Although visibly pregnant, Elsa was placed in detention for two days in inadequate and inhumane conditions, after which she was told that, based on an official ruling, she herself was now considered a “threat” by the Israeli authorities. In other words, the Israeli authorities decided to unjustly punish both Elsa and their unborn child, by not allowing her to move freely as is authorised by her Work Visa.
According to relatives, Israel is purposely depriving Elsa the right to give birth to her and Salah’s child in Jerusalem, thereby impairing the child’s chances of ever travelling to his father’s beloved homeland, Palestine. As Elsa is now 7 months pregnant and, because of her condition, will not be allowed to fly from February 14, if she returns to France before that date, and the child is born there, he or she will likely never be recognized by the Israeli authorities and thus will not be issued a Jerusalem ID card, something which will create tremendous obstacles for him or her in the future, and most probably will result in the child’s not being able to live normally with his two parents.
We must prevent this terrible denial of justice and this arbitrary decision that now targets Salah’s wife and their unborn child! Arbitrariness based on nothing but lies invented out of thin air by the Israeli authorities is neither fair nor just! We are therefore calling on the French government to act immediately in the interests of its citizens, Salah and Elsa, to ensure that they, as a young family, are allowed to live together and freely in Jerusalem.
Citizens, representatives, advisors, ministers, members of parliaments around the world have signed a petition to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius calling for resolute action on behalf of Salah, Elsa and their unborn child. “Israel cannot continue flout International Law as it pleases. Freedom of movement is a right, not a privilege!”