Israel Has Again Arrested Palestinian Lawyer and Jacobin Contributor Salah Hamouri

On Sunday, Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri published a Jacobin op-ed about the harassment he has suffered at the hands of Israeli authorities. On Monday morning, they raided his home and jailed him.

Salah Hamouri gives an interview at the prisoners’ rights group Addameer’s offices in Ramallah on October 1, 2020. (Abbas Momani / AFP via Getty Images)

Early on Monday morning, Israeli forces raided the home of French-Palestinian human rights activist Salah Hamouri, before taking him into custody. The move came the day after he published an op-ed in Jacobin detailing the judicial harassment to which he and his family have been subjected for sixteen years.

The New Arab reports that yesterday Hamouri was taken from his home to the Ofer detention center near Ramallah. It cited a member of Addameer — the prisoners’ rights group for which Hamouri has long worked as a lawyer — saying that Israeli authorities have issued no information about his current status. His allies fear that the arrest could be the prelude to his deportation or even “administrative detention” — meaning up to six months in jail, without charges. The thirty-six-year-old has repeatedly been subject to such prison spells, from his teenage years to as recently as 2020, without ever being put on trial.

Hamouri has already spent a total of over a decade in Israeli prisons. Authorities paint him as a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) “terrorist” and would-be assassin despite the lack of material evidence. Not only has Hamouri always adamantly denied such allegations, but the government of France, of which he is also a national, has also insisted that the claims are baseless. Upon his release following a first long spell in jail ending in late 2011, France’s then foreign minister Alain Juppé said that the “indictment file was empty.” Addameer has itself been branded a “terrorist” organization by the Israeli state.

Hamouri has refused to leave Palestine; in his Jacobin op-ed, he explained that Israeli authorities are trying to terrorize him into leaving, as part of their wider endeavor to drive Palestinians from their homeland. In recent months he had been living in Kufr Aqab, to the north of Jerusalem, after being stripped of his residency permit for his native city on grounds of “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel,” a new mechanism introduced in 2018. A native son of Jerusalem, in September 2020 he was informed that the Israeli Ministry of the Interior intended to strip him of his permanent residence card, a decision upheld by the Israeli High Court upon appeal in December 2021. He has also been deprived of his medical insurance.

Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort, and their two children have lived in France, since she was deported, while pregnant, from the Tel Aviv airport in 2016. In an interview with Le Courrier de l’Atlas last month, Lefort highlighted the injustice of the pretext used against Hamouri, noting that “Jerusalem has been occupied territory since 1967 and people like my husband who live under occupation cannot be bound to loyalty toward the occupying power.” Le Courrier de l’Atlas also cited Israeli NGO B’Tselem to the effect that some 15,000 Palestinians have similarly been stripped of their residence cards for the city.

Israeli authorities have previously offered Hamouri the “choice” of being deported as an alternative to being jailed — an offer that also raises serious doubts over the sincerity of the attempts to cast him as a “terrorist.” His refusal to bow to such pressure is an act of resistance in the face of the ongoing project to colonize Palestine and replace its population with settlers. Jacobin express our solidarity with him and his colleagues at Addameer.