Ramallah, occupied the West Bank – Salah Hammuri, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian lawyer and human rights lawyer, is fighting the impending deportation from his homeland.
The move comes after Israeli authorities accused him of “breach of allegiance to the state of Israel” and described him as a “security threat.”
“I live in turmoil because I can’t plan for the next 24 hours of my life. I cannot leave Ramallah because I fear arrest if I cross the checkpoint and enter Israel, “said Hammouri, a French national.
“I cannot visit my home and family in Jerusalem, and I cannot leave the country to go to France to see my wife and children because I will not be allowed to return,” he told Al Jazeera.
Hammuri’s pregnant French wife Elsa was denied entry to Israel in 2016 despite having a work visa.
“He was detained for several days at Ben Gurion Airport and then deported to France,” Hammuri said. “Every three months I would leave the country to see my wife and two children, but now that is impossible.”
‘Out of the question’
On October 18, Israeli Interior Minister Aylette Shekde formally informed the 36-year-old Palestinian-French human rights defender of his permanent residency status in Jerusalem for “breach of allegiance to the state of Israel.”
The decision has already been approved by Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelssohn and Justice Gideon Sar.
Last year, Hammuri was formally informed of the Interior Ministry’s intention to withdraw its Jerusalem residence. He was told he could challenge the move with a written submission within 30 days.
“There is no question of deportation and leaving my own country. “Israel has no right to expel Palestinians from their homeland or deny them the right to live in their own city,” Hammuri said.
Thousands of Palestinians are living in Jerusalem and Israel “illegally” because Israeli authorities refuse to grant residency rights to foreigners married to Palestinians or Jerusalemites in the West Bank, as opposed to Israeli Jews whose wives are automatically granted citizenship in addition to residency.
Israel’s denial of Palestinian wives’ right to live is based on its citizenship and access to Israeli law, due to security concerns, but critics argue that it is part of a policy to change the population of occupied East Jerusalem in favor of the Jewish majority.
“As a result, to this day, thousands of Palestinian spouses, Israeli citizens or residents, have to stay in their homes year after year, with nothing but the right to military service and the right to social security,” the Israeli rights group Hammokod noted.
“In the case of minorities, those who have applied for family reunification and received initial approval before enacting legislation receive temporary status in Israel, which gives them the right to social security but does not give them a sense of stability in their own home.”
Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states in The Hague Regulations and Article 68 (3) that international humanitarian law explicitly prohibits an occupying power from demanding allegiance from an occupied population.
Israel’s policy of revoking the right of Palestinians to reside in occupied East Jerusalem further violates Article 43 of the Hague Regulations and Article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that the occupying power cannot act as a sovereign legislator or extend its own territory. .
According to a 2018 report by Human Rights Watch, Israel has withdrawn at least 14,595 Palestinians living in Jerusalem since 1967, largely on the grounds of having a “center of life” outside Jerusalem.
The revocation of Hammuri’s residence, however, was the first on the grounds of “breach of allegiance to Israel.”
He says the action against him appears to be politically motivated because of his human rights record and his “strong opposition” to the Israeli occupation. He was first arrested as a teenager for drawing political graffiti on walls.
Hammouri was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to assassinate a rabbi from an Israeli ruling party – a charge his lawyer says was unfair because he actually blocked the plan.
He was given the option of being deported to France, where his mother and wife are, or imprisoned; He refuses to be deported.
“I was sentenced to seven years in prison before being released in a 2011 prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,” Hammuri said.
“Since then, I have been arrested several times and no charges have been brought against me. I have been in administrative detention for almost two years,” he said, referring to Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians indefinitely without trial or charge.
His Israeli lawyer, Leah Tsemel, said it could take months to appeal the deportation and that any court decision would be influenced by the political situation.
He also acknowledged that there was a chance they would not win the appeal but that this would not stop them from continuing to fight for justice even though it would take a long time.
“We have various arguments that we would like to use regarding Hammuri’s activities and his non-actions,” Tsemel told Al Jazeera.
Israel annexed occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 – a move that is not internationally recognized and violates international law.
“The Palestinians had no choice but to join,” Tsemel said. “Only later did an Israeli court amend the law to enable the Interior Ministry to deny the existence of Palestinians for not swearing allegiance to the state or committing a crime.
“We are arguing that the inhabitants of East Jerusalem are not obliged to be loyal to a state that is not a citizen and that they were occupied. Moreover, according to international law, occupiers are not obliged to be loyal to the occupying power and have the right to fight against the occupation. ”
Reunion of the Jerusalem family
Israel’s citizenship and entry law is renewed every six months, but it expires on July 6, after the Israeli parliament repealed the bill to extend the Knesset bill.
Within weeks, it became clear that the interior minister had instructed clerks in the ministry not to process requests for citizenship or permanent status, to whom the law had recently been applied – a population of more than 13,000 people, despite repeated contacts by human rights groups. In the ministry, “Hamocode reported.
Hamocode, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), and the Physician for Human Rights have appealed to the High Court to compel the Interior Ministry to process the reunification request.
“There has been no hearing so far – we have asked the High Court to hear the case instead of the district court and we are waiting for a decision on this request,” Hamocode executive director Jessica Montel told Al Jazeera.
“The state has to submit its response to the petition but has requested an extension.”
Hammouri was one of six Palestinian rights activists whose phone was marketed by the Israeli technology company NSO by Pegasus Spyware, according to a detailed investigation conducted by Frontline Defenders in a joint technical report with Amnesty International and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. , Which independently confirmed the results.
Milena Ansari of Adam’s Palestinian rights group told Al Jazeera that Israel had been trying to deport Hammuri for years.
“There is no evidence against him for his recent detention and the Israelis have ignored the human rights issues he has been involved in for years as a competent lawyer,” Ansari said.
Hamory acknowledged that his life would be easier if he left Palestine and lived in France with his family, but said it was not an option.
“It simply came to our notice then. I will block all roads to continue living in Jerusalem, which 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. “