“I did not want this moment.” Physically diminished by 10 months of imprisonment, Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, who was held without formal charge in Israeli prisons since March, arrived at Paris international airport in Roissy, Sunday, December 18, in the late morning. A few hours earlier, he had been taken from his cell and deported to France on the orders of Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked. Born in East Jerusalem, Mr. Hamouri does not have Israeli citizenship but holds a residence permit, which the Israeli authorities have revoked.
This measure has been described as a serious human rights violation by Amnesty International. “It’s deportation,” said Jean-Claude Samouiller, president of Amnesty International France. “Forced evictions and forced detentions without charges, the separation of families are part of the crime of apartheid that we denounce. There is a desire for hegemony over East Jerusalem. People who do not pledge allegiance to Israel are being expelled, whereas under international law an occupied population does not have to pledge allegiance to an occupying power.”
“I was taken against my will from my place of detention and sent into exile,” Mr. Hamouri charged. “I’m back with my family, my relatives. But it’s hard to be torn from my homeland. This is a process of ethnic cleansing which I’m personally experiencing. The Israeli state is using all means to ensure that there are few Palestinians on the land it’s occupying.”
‘From detention to exile’
The deportation of Mr. Hamouri is a “test” for the residents of East Jerusalem, his lawyer Leah Tsemel recently argued, saying she feared the future Israeli government would increase the number of revocation of residence permits of Palestinians born in the Holy City.
“I’ve been their target for over twenty years. They’ve wanted to deport me to France since 2005. I always refused. They made me leave. By force. It’s to make an example, to show the younger generations what awaits those who want to resist them,” Mr. Hamouri added.
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Mr. Hamouri had been held in administrative detention in March, a controversial measure allowing Israel to imprison suspects without formal charges. He had already been detained between 2005 and 2011, according to Israeli justice for having participated in a plot to assassinate an Israeli religious and political leader. Even though there was no concrete evidence in the file, the young man had, as many Palestinians do, agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.
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