Israeli deportation order against French-Palestinian activist Salah Hammouri could constitute war crime

OHCHR

Israel’s decision to deport French-Palestinian human rights defender and lawyer Salah Hammouri to France against his will may constitute a war crime under the Geneva Convention, UN experts* warned today.

On 30 November 2022, Israel reaffirmed the revocation of his permanent residency in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities said Hammouri would be deported to France on 4 December 2022 on the basis of his alleged “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel”, and based on secret evidence.

“Such unilateral, arbitrary measures taken by Israeli authorities in retaliation against Mr. Hammouri as a human rights defender, violate every principle and the very spirit of international law,” the experts said. The deportation of protected persons from an occupied territory is prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, they recalled.

“These measures set an extremely dangerous precedent for all Palestinians in Jerusalem. The international community must not remain silent and quietly watch this umpteenth violation,” the experts said.

Mr. Hammouri is a renowned human rights lawyer advocating for prisoners’ rights, including torture survivors, with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, an internationally respected human rights organisation and UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture grantee. In October 2021, Israel designated Addameer and other Palestinian civil society organisations as “terrorist” and “unlawful.”

As a leading human rights defender, Mr. Hammouri has been the target of harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and other forms of abuse by Israeli authorities for many years.

He was placed in administrative detention on 7 March this year, without charge or trial. Since July, Mr Hammouri has been detained in a high security prison under degrading conditions, as a form of punishment after he engaged in a hunger strike and appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to urge Israel to end his detention.

Since Israeli authorities reaffirmed the revocation of his residency in Jerusalem and ordered his deportation, the experts said Mr Hammouri was at imminent risk of expulsion, on grounds of his alleged involvement in “terrorist activities” and “breach of allegiance” to the State of Israel. The allegations are based on secret information that he cannot challenge.

“It is high time Israel is fully investigated and held accountable for alleged war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory. As we repeatedly said, forcibly deporting protected persons from the occupied territory and forcing their allegiance to the occupying power, constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law,” the UN experts said.

The experts urged Israel to retract the revocation of Mr. Hammouri’s permanent residency and release him from detention immediately. They noted the French Government’s efforts to secure Hammouri’s release but stress that more concrete measures must be taken by France and the international community to prevent his forcible deportation.

The experts have repeatedly raised concerns about measures taken against Mr. Hammouri by Israeli authorities in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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