Some 30 organizations have called for the immediate release of the administratively detained Palestinian-French citizen Salah Hammouri, demanding that Israel rescind the decision to revoke his Jerusalem residency based on “secret evidence”.
“We, the undersigned organizations, unions, and institutions, condemn and reject the arbitrary measures taken by the Israeli occupation forces against human rights defender and lawyer at Addameer, violating its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law,” they said in the petition.
“For many years, Salah Hammouri has been subjected to a continuous harassment campaign by the occupation forces due to his human rights activism. Mr. Hammouri has spent nine years in Israeli occupation prisons as a result of over six arrests. The longest stretch he spent in an occupation prison was seven continuous years between 2005 and 2011 after he was forced to choose between being deported to France for 15 years or imprisoned for 7. Since the beginning of March 2022, the Israeli occupation forces have held Mr. Hammouri in their prisons without charge under the administrative detention system, based on a secret file that even his lawyer is not permitted to view. These actions make his detention arbitrary and illegal under international law,” they said.
“The occupation forces have taken several additional acts against Mr. Hammouri in an attempt to deport him from Jerusalem. Most recently, in October 2021, they issued a decision to revoke his Jerusalem residency for charges of not showing loyalty to the State of Israel, which was also based on ‘secret evidence.’ Thereafter, they have tried to enforce the decision by attempting to deport him to France; where he holds citizenship. Mr. Hammouri’s wife and children currently reside in France because the occupation authorities have prevented them from entering the occupied territories, thus depriving him of his right to have his family reside with him.
“When Mr. Hammouri is released, he fears he will be forcibly removed and deported from his home city of Jerusalem. The Israeli Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Mr. Hammouri’s residency revocation case in February 2023.”
The organizations said Hammouri was targeted by Israel “because he is a human rights defender and a lawyer for Palestinian prisoners. This means that Israel is waging a war against human rights defenders, both as individuals and groups, completing what it started by labeling six Palestinian human rights organizations as terrorist groups including Addameer where Mr. Hammouri works. In fact, Israel previously personally targeted Mr. Hammouri for being a human rights worker by hacking his mobile phone and installing Pegasus software developed by Israeli cybersecurity company NSO. Through these practices, Israel seeks to convey a message to all peaceful activists and human rights defenders that they have no immunity and can be subjected to family separation, arbitrary detention, and even expulsion from the country.”
In addition, said the organizations, “although Mr. Hammouri holds French citizenship, the French government has not played any effective role in pressing for his release from this arbitrary detention. The Israeli government recently placed Mr. Hammouri in a collective isolation confinement as a punishment for sending a letter to French President Manuel Macron asking him to help with his release. Since then, the French government has not taken any public action to assist him such as condemning the detention or calling on the Israeli occupation authorities to immediately release him. Instead, they merely visited him and asked the Israeli government to ‘respect his rights.’ These actions are clearly insufficient, not in line with the usual response of French authorities in cases of arbitrary detention of French citizens and do not demonstrate a strong enough political will to hold the Israeli authorities accountable.”
Accordingly, the organizations, unions, institutions, and human rights bodies that have signed this statement, said they “reject the harassment and arbitrary violations the Israeli occupation forces are subjecting Salah Hammouri to as punishment for his human rights work and to discourage him, and all human rights defenders, from continuing to defend Palestinians and criticize Israeli violations.”
They condemned and rejected the practice of administrative detention, emphasizing its violation of provisions of international law, thus calling for the immediate release of all administrative detainees, including Salah Hammouri, condemned and rejected the Israeli decision to revoke Hammouri’s Jerusalem residency, demanded that the French government act effectively and quickly to help secure the release of French citizen Salah Hammouri, denounce and prevent the revocation of his residency and his forced deportation from Jerusalem, and compensate him for the human rights violations he was subjected to.
They also demanded that the International Criminal Court move the investigation file as soon as possible and prosecute Israel for its grave violations of international humanitarian and criminal law, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, called on the United Nations, especially the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Human Rights Council, to take effective steps to stop Israel’s practices of revoking Jerusalem residencies, emptying the city of its Arab residents, and changing its demographic composition in contravention of the existing legal status, demanded that world governments activate universal jurisdiction in accordance with Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure that Israel is held accountable and does not enjoy impunity for the grave violations it commits against Palestinians, including arbitrary detention and forced displacement, and demanded that member states of the international community, world parliaments, and civil society institutions work to pressure Israel to respect human rights work and help provide protection to the Palestinian people and human rights workers, document violations of international law committed by the occupation, and seek international accountability.