Ramallah, the occupied West Bank —— Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian lawyer and human rights advocate who was born and raised in Jerusalem, is fighting the imminent deportation.
The expulsion of Hamuri came after the Israeli authorities accused him of “violating loyalty to the State of Israel” and described him as a “security threat.”
“I live in an uncertain situation because I cannot plan the next 24 hours of my life. I cannot leave Ramallah because I am afraid of being arrested when I cross the checkpoint and enter Israel,” said Hamuri, who is also a French citizen. .
He told Al Jazeera: “I cannot go to Jerusalem to visit my home and family, nor can I leave this country to visit my wife and children in France because I will not be allowed to return.”
Despite holding a work visa, Hamuri’s pregnant French wife Elsa was denied entry into Israel in 2016.
“She was held for a few days at Ben Gurion Airport and then deported to France,” Hamuri said. “I used to leave this country once every three months to see my wife and two children, but now this is impossible.”
On October 18, Israeli Minister of the Interior, Ayelet Shaked (Ayelet Shaked) officially notified the 36-year-old Pakistani human rights defender that his permanent residence in Jerusalem was revoked for “violating his loyalty to the State of Israel” identity.
The decision has been approved by Israeli Minister of Justice Avicha Mendelblit and Minister of Justice Gideon Sar.
Last year, Hamuri was formally notified that the Ministry of the Interior intends to revoke his residency rights in Jerusalem. He was told that he could challenge the move in writing within 30 days.
“Deportation and departure from my home country are impossible. Israel has no right to expel Palestinians from their homes, nor does it have the right to deprive us of the right to live in our own cities,” Hamuri said.
Thousands of Palestinians have been living “illegal” in Jerusalem and Israel because the Israeli authorities refused to grant residency to Palestinians in the West Bank or foreigners married to Jerusalemites, which is related to Israeli Jews whose spouses automatically obtain residency and citizenship. different.
Israel’s rejection of Palestinian spouses’ residency rights is based on their citizenship and entry into Israel law, allegedly for security reasons, but critics see this as part of a policy of changing the demographics of Occupied East Jerusalem to support the Jewish majority.
“So, to this day, thousands of Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens or residents must live in their homes for many years, with nothing but military residence permits and social security rights,” said Hamoked, an Israeli rights organization.
“In a few cases, those who applied for family reunification and obtained preliminary approval before the law was promulgated were granted temporary status in Israel, which provided them with social security rights but left them with no sense of stability in their homes.”
‘Breach of loyalty’
International humanitarian law expressly prohibits the occupying power from demanding allegiance to the occupied population, as stated in Article 45 of the Hague Regulations and Article 68(3) of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel’s policy of abolishing Palestinian residency rights in occupied East Jerusalem further violates Article 43 of the Hague Regulations and Article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulate that the occupying power shall not act as a sovereign legislator or extend its own legislation to Occupied territories. .
According to a 2018 report by Human Rights Watch, since 1967, at least 14,595 Palestinians from Jerusalem have been revoked by Israel with their residency rights, most of them because they have “life centers” outside of Jerusalem.
However, Hammouri’s residency was revoked for the first time based on “violation of allegiance to Israel”.
He said that because of his human rights work and “strong opposition” to the Israeli occupation, the measures taken against him appeared to be politically motivated. He was first arrested when he was a teenager for painting political graffiti on the wall.
Hammouri was later sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to attack a rabbi of the Israeli Shas party with another Palestinian-his lawyer called the accusation unfair because he actually The plan was blocked. Go forward.
He can choose to be deported to France, where his mother and wife are from, or serve a sentence; he refuses to be deported from his home country.
“I served seven years in prison and then was released in a prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in 2011,” Hamuri said.
“Since then, I have been arrested and detained many times for a total of about two years without any charges against me,” he added, referring to Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians indefinitely without trial or charges.
His Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel said that appeals against deportation may take months, and any court decision will be affected by the local political situation.
She also admitted that they may not win the appeal, but that will not stop them from continuing to fight for justice, no matter how long it takes.
“We intend to make various arguments about Hamuri’s behavior and his non-behavior,” Tsemel told Al Jazeera.
Israel annexed occupied East Jerusalem in 1967—a move that was not recognized internationally and violated international law.
“The Palestinians have no choice in annexation,” Tsemel said. “It was not until later that the Israeli courts changed the legislation to enable the Ministry of the Interior to deny Palestinians residency on the grounds of not swearing allegiance to the country or committing a crime.
“We believe that East Jerusalem residents have no obligation to be loyal to a country of which they are not citizens, and that the occupation is imposed on them. In addition, under international law, people under occupation have no obligation to be loyal to the occupying power and have the right to resist the occupation.”
Jerusalem family reunion
The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Act is updated every six months, but the bill expires on July 6 after the Knesset vetoed a bill to extend the bill.
“Within a few weeks it became clear that the Minister of the Interior has instructed ministries and clerk not to process citizenship or permanent status applications from people who had not applied the law until recently-despite repeated communications by human rights organizations, there is still a population of more than 13,000 people. To the ministry,” Hamoked reports.
Hamoked, the Israeli Civil Rights Association (ACRI) and human rights physicians petitioned the High Court, asking the Ministry of Interior to handle the unification request.
Hamoked executive director Jessica Montere told Al Jazeera: “So far, no hearing has been held-we have requested that the case be heard in the High Court instead of the District Court and are waiting for a decision on this request.”
“The state must submit a response to the petition, but asks for an extension.”
According to a technical report jointly issued by Frontline Defenders, Amnesty International and the Citizens Laboratory of the University of Toronto, Hamuri was one of six Palestinian rights activists whose mobile phones were infected with Pegasus spyware sold by Israeli technology company NSO. , Independently confirmed the results.
Milena Ansari from the Addameer Palestinian Rights Organization told Al Jazeera that Israel had been trying to expel Hammouri for years.
Ansari said: “There is no evidence of his recent detention, and the Israelis have ignored the human rights work he has been involved in as a qualified lawyer for many years.”
Hamuri admitted that if he left Palestine to live with his family in France, his life would be easier, but he said it was not an option.
“For me, this is not a question of leaving. I will use all my means to continue living in Jerusalem. It is my right,” he said.
“I was born in Jerusalem, I grew up in Jerusalem, my memory is there, my life is there. It is my right to live in Jerusalem, and I will continue to fight for this right, even though I know the road ahead is long and difficult.”