On Saturday, June 23, Palestinian-French lawyer Salah Hamouri attended a confirmation hearing in Jerusalem District Court where Israel’s administrative detention order against him was renewed for another three months.
Hamouri, a human rights defender and field researcher with Addameer, which supports Palestinian political prisoners, was taken from his home in a raid by Israeli forces on August 23, 2017. He has since been held by Israel in administrative detention, a practice in which detainees are imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial based on secret evidence.
In the occupied West Bank, where only the Palestinian population is subjected to Israeli military law, Israeli Military Order 1651 permits administrative detention orders for up to six months. These orders can be renewed repeatedly.
“If there were real claims against Salah, and other human rights defenders, they would be charged rather than held under administrative detention,” says Dawood Yousef, advocacy coordinator at Addameer. Palestinian legislators, civil society organizations, lawyers, academics, journalists, activists and artists are routinely subjected to punitive measures by the Israeli government.
Addameer reports that there are 6,036 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons. Among them is Palestinian legislator and former director of Addameer Khalida Jarrar whose administrative detention order was extended
by an Israeli military court for four months on 16 June. No evidence has been presented against Jarrar, who has been imprisoned for a year without charges or trial.
“There are two conclusions that can be drawn from Salah’s case,” says Yousef. “Either governments do not, in fact, pressure the Israelis on these types of cases, despite having a distinct responsibility to do so in defense of their citizens; or that diplomatic means are powerless in the face of the will of the occupation. I tend to believe it is somewhere in the middle. Western governments are reluctant to pressure Israel with anything more than mild requests and rebukes. While they continue to provide material support, there is no reason for the Israelis to change their actions.”
During a December meeting in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release Hamouri; though Macron has, so far, refused to meet Hamouri’s wife, Elsa Lefort. Israel has banned Lefort from entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories to visit her husband.
Human Rights Watch’s Director for Israel and Palestine, Omar Shakir, has described Hamouri’s detention as “outrageous.” Shakir, a US citizen, was himself the subject of a crackdown on human rights groups by the Israeli government in early May, when a deportation order was issued against him. “International law only permits administrative detention as a temporary and exceptional measure,” says Shakir. “Israel’s locking up of hundreds of Palestinians subject to this form of internship after 50 years of occupation inverts the law, turning the exception into the norm, at the cost of the fundamental right to due process.”