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“He will be a voice for the Palestinian people”

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The legal saga lasted several months. Israel ended up expelling Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri on Sunday, December 18. He had been held in Israeli prisons since March, without formal charges.

His family had been notified earlier at the weekend that he was to be placed on a Tel Aviv/Paris flight by carrier El AL.

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“The first step will be to meet again, there is time to catch up with the family. Salah’s voice will not die out with this forced exile (…) In France, he will be a voice for the Palestinian people”his wife Elsa Lefort told AFP.

Aged 37, Salah Hamouri was sentenced in March to three months of administrative detention, a controversial measure allowing Israel to incarcerate suspects without formal charges.

military justice

Suspected by Israel of links – which he denies – with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an organization deemed terrorist by the Jewish state and the European Union, Salah Hamouri had learned at the end of November that he was going be deported in December to France.

But his deportation was postponed following military court hearings, with his lawyers challenging his deportation order and also the revocation of his status as an East Jerusalem resident.

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Born in this part of the Holy City, annexed and occupied by the Jewish state, Salah Hamouri does not have Israeli nationality but has a residence permit, which the Israeli authorities have revoked, which he disputes. However, at the beginning of December, the Israeli authorities confirmed the revocation of his status, thus paving the way for an imminent expulsion despite a new hearing scheduled for January 1.

Since Friday evening, the indications of an expulsion on Sunday had multiplied, the Arab Israeli deputy Aïda Touma-Slimane having moreover written on Saturday evening to the Minister of Defense Benny Gantz to prevent the expulsion, however decreed by the Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked.

The expulsion of Salah Hamouri comes shortly before the formation of a new government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, winner of the legislative elections of November 1, and his allies from the ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties.

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“It is a tremendous achievement to have been able to bring about, just before the end of my term, his expulsion”Ms. Shaked commented on Sunday.

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” Homeland “

The expulsion of Salah Hamouri is a ” test “ for the inhabitants of East Jerusalem, recently pleaded his lawyer Leah Tsemel, saying that he fears that the future Israeli government will multiply the revocations of residency permits for Palestinians born in the Holy City.

“This expulsion is a maneuver aimed at hindering the work of Salah Hamouri in favor of human rights, but also the expression of the long-term political objective of the Israeli authorities, which is to diminish the size of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem. -Is “Amnesty International and French NGOs said on Sunday.

“The expulsion of Salah Hamouri is truly worrying for Palestinians in Jerusalem”said a senior Palestinian official requesting anonymity, the Franco-Palestinian support campaign judging “illegal” his expulsion from his hometown by a “power of occupation”.

“We didn’t think it was possible to expel a person from their native land. He is a French citizen, he is more Palestinian. He was born in Jerusalem, lived and grew up here (…) These roots are here”recently explained his mother, Denise Hamouri.

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She had urged French President Emmanuel Macron to put pressure on Israel to suspend his expulsion and allow Salah Hamouri to travel freely between Jerusalem and France, the country where his wife, Elsa Lefort, and their two children currently live.

“There was no political will to put pressure on the Israeli government with means (…) It was the bare minimum”added Ms. Lefort.

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Prisoners and Pegasus

Salah Hamouri was imprisoned in Israel between 2005 and 2011 for participating in the attempted assassination of Ovadia Yossef, Israel’s former chief rabbi and founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shass party, before being released in 2011 as part of a an exchange of prisoners that led to the release of Franco-Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Having become a lawyer himself, he worked for the NGO Addammeer, which defends Palestinian prisoners. But this NGO has been placed in recent months, like a handful of others, on the Israeli list of terrorist organizations.

And to add to the saga, Amnesty International had concluded, after analysis of Salah Hamouri’s mobile phone, that it had been hacked by the Pegasus spyware from the Israeli company NSO, whose technology is also suspected, by a consortium of journalists, of having been used to infiltrate President Macron’s smartphone.

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