French -Palestinian rights lawyer: Deportation punishment for activism against Israel

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Paris – Al Carmel

Media said today that after a month Israel deported the Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri from his prison cell to France, Hammouri says his “uprooting” is part of Israel’s punitive policies against Palestinians.

Hamouri has joined thousands of other Palestinians who have been deported for their activism against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Rights groups say the deportations and detentions are against international law, and Amnesty International France called it “part of the crime of apartheid”.

Last March, Israel detained Al-Omari on charges of belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which he denies, but without trial.

His case has highlighted the fragile position of Palestinian Jerusalemites, who have rescindable residency rights and do not hold Israeli citizenship.

Hammouri said Israel had wanted to deport him for 15 years instead of sentencing him to prison but he made the difficult choice of going to prison instead.

According to international law, deportation by an occupying power constitutes a breach of the Geneva Conventions and is considered one of the most serious war crimes.

According to the Israeli rights group B’tselem, such deportations are a direct continuation of Israel’s general policy in occupied East Jerusalem since 1967, whose goal is to create a demographic and geographic reality under which Israel’s sovereignty in the city cannot be challenged.

“This policy blatantly discriminates between Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and Israeli citizens,” the rights group said. “Israeli citizens can leave the country for as long as they like and always have the right to return.”

Palestinians who have residency in Jerusalem under the threat of losing their status.

According to Human Rights Watch, Israel has revoked the residency status of at least 14,701 Palestinians in East Jerusalem from 1967 to 2020. But if the dependent children of those who had their residencies revoked are counted, the number is much higher – at 86,000.

Hammouri criticised France and said he received no help from the French government.

“I haven’t received a single telephone call from French authorities or any official support from them about my case,” he said. “The French government has a responsibility to me as a citizen and did not do its duty to defend me and fight my deportation. Instead, the government intentionally looked away and allowed the Israeli occupation to deport me.”

Hammoury was one of six Palestinian human rights activists whose phones were hacked using Israeli Pegasus spyware in 2021, which he described as part of longstanding harassment undertaken by Israel.

“Even after violating my privacy, Israel still couldn’t charge me with anything,” he said. “Spying on my phone only speaks to their moral bankruptcy, and these tactics are used against those who speak up against the occupation and defend our rights as Palestinians.”

“I’m still processing my deportation,” he said. “But I’ve promised myself to make my return to Jerusalem my life’s work.”

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