(Photo credit: Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian-French human rights lawyer and activist, Salah Hammouri, was deported by Israel on 18 December under accusations of “terrorist activity” and “security threats,” the Israeli Interior Ministry announced in a statement.
According to the ministry, Hammouri had “organized, inspired and planned to commit terror attacks” against “citizens and well-known Israelis.”
“This was a long and protracted process and it is a tremendous achievement that I was able to bring about his deportation just before the end of my duties, using the tools at my disposal to advance the fight against terrorism … Justice has been done to the terrorist and he has been deported from Israel,” Israel’s Interior Minister, Ayalet Shaked, said.
The French Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s deportation of Hammouri to France, and referred to it as “against the law,” while activists and rights groups have strongly denounced the Israeli decision.
Hammouri was targeted for his role in providing legal aid to Palestinians, Amnesty International suggested, adding that his deportation constituted a major violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as a potential war crime and crime against humanity.
Upon arriving in Paris, he said that he had “changed location, but the fight continues,” further adding: “We can’t abandon Palestine. Resistance is our right.”
Hammouri represents Addameer, a legal aid and prisoner’s rights group labeled a terrorist organization by Israel for its alleged links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist Palestinian resistance movement. Earlier this year, Addameer was one of the several Palestinian rights groups forcibly shut down by Israel.
In 2005, he was incarcerated for six years on charges of involvement in a plot to assassinate a prominent Israeli rabbi and political leader, which he denied. In March of this year, he was detained by Israel and was ordered to be held without charge or trial – known in the Israeli system as “administrative detention.”
During his time in detention, Hammouri appealed for help in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, and was subsequently designated as a high-risk prisoner and placed in a maximum-security prison. Following a 19-day hunger strike in September, he was informed last month that he would be deported without trial.
“I will continue my right to resist against this occupation until I have the right to go back to my country,” he said.
Israel is known for detaining and holding Palestinians in prison without charge or trial. Israeli human rights organization HaMoked revealed on 2 October that Tel Aviv currently has 800 Palestinians in detention without trial or clarified charges, the highest number since 2008.