Israel revoked Salah Hammouri’s residency status in October 2021 and kept him in prison under administrative detention from March 2022 before deporting him on December 18

After keeping him in prison for months without any charge or trial, Israel forcibly deported Palestinian-French human rights activist and lawyer Salah Hammouri to France on Sunday, December 18, despite protests.

sign that reads end the apartheid free Palestine

Hammouri had been under ‘administrative detention’ since March. He was never charged formally or tried for any crime. Israeli authorities did, however, claim that they possessed ‘secret evidence’ against him.

Hammouri is a field researcher with Ramallah-based prisoners’ rights group Addameer. He is also a member of the group of human rights activists suing Israel over its alleged usage of the Pegasus spyware to target them.

Hammouri was born in occupied East Jerusalem and had been living there before his arrest in March. His residency status was revoked in October 2021 for an alleged “breach of allegiance to the state of Israel.”

Israel only provides ‘residency status’ to Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, unlike the area’s Jewish population, which receives full citizenship rights.

Confirming Hammouri’s deportation, Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s interior minister, called him a “terrorist,” per Al Jazeera reported. Israel had earlier accused him of being a member of the banned leftist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Israel had already deported Hammouri’s wife Elsa Lefort and his two children to France earlier.

Before his deportation, in a letter published in the New Arab on December 16, Hammouri called it a “forcible expulsion” from “[his] land, [his] home, [his] social surroundings, [his] history in this place.” He wrote that what was happening to him was not just the experience of an individual but part of the “collective memory” of all Palestinians, “whose Nakba has not ceased since 1948, experiencing daily arrest, expulsion, surveillance, monitoring, harassment, killing and displacement.”

Hammouri’s deportation drew strong criticism from Palestinians and other human rights groups, who called it both an illegal act and a war crime.

Upon arrival in Paris, Hammouri spoke to the press and accused Israel of indulging in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the occupied territories. He claimed that he was deported to convey the message that “that nobody can resist Israel.” He asserted that he will “continue [his] right to resist this occupation until [he has] the right to go back to [his] country,” Al Jazeera reported.

The Justice for Salah campaign issued a statement on Sunday calling Hammouri’s deportation a “horrifying escalation in Israel’s systematic practices of ethnically cleansing Palestinians from illegally annexed and occupied Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement condemning “Israel’s criminal displacement” of Hammouri. Questioning the basis for his deportation, the Palestinian Authority statement asserted that “Salah and other Palestinian citizens owe no allegiance to Israel, the occupying power” and termed the act “part and parcel of Israeli colonial apartheid regime,” Wafa reported.

Questioning the legality of Hammouri’s deportation, Israeli human rights group B’tselem said that it “contravenes international law and sets a dangerous precedent for further deportation of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories.”

Though there was no immediate reaction from France after Hammouri’s deportation, its Foreign Ministry had earlier objected to any such move, claiming that it “[opposed] this expulsion of a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, an occupied territory within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”