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Human rights defender Salah Hammouri transferred to high-risk Israeli prison

Jerusalem24 – The Israel Prison Services (IPS) has punitively transferred Palestinian-French human rights defender and lawyer Salah Hammouri to a high-risk Israeli isolation prison facility, according to a campaign fighting to secure Hammouri’s release.

Hammouri was classified as a prisoner “with a high degree of danger” and transferred to an Israeli isolation prison facility called Hadarim.

The Justice for Salah campaign issued a statement saying, “In the past 10 days, the Israeli occupation prison administration classified HRD and lawyer Salah Hammouri as ‘Sagav’, which means a prisoner with a high degree of danger. This entails excessive harassment with the use of hand- and foot cuffs in addition to repeated night raids to the prisoner’s cell where forces turn everything upside-down.”

“All of the above happened after Salah’s letter to Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, addressing him as a fellow French citizen, reminding him of his obligations as head of state to ensure his immediate release and end of persecution.”

Hammouri wrote a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron on 3 July, appealing for protection as a French citizen.

37-year-old Hammouri, a Palestinian-French Jerusalemite and lawyer with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and a father of two, has been in administrative detention since 7 March this year. An Israeli military court sentenced him to administrative detention after accusing him of endangering “security in the region.”

He has spent a total of nearly nine years in Israeli jails spanning separate detention periods. Hammouri was also denied entry into the occupied West Bank for more than two years, and his permanent residency status in Jerusalem, his city of birth, was stripped away by Israeli authorities on 18 October 2021.

Below is the text of Hammouri’s letter to Macron in full.

To The French Republic president Emanuel Macron

From Prison Cell No. 4 of Ofer prison on 03 July 2022

Mr. President,

I write you this letter in the run-up to July 14, this date of utmost significance to the world, and which brought forth the values of humanity and democracy that underpin the French motto, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. This slogan captured the will of hundreds of thousands of French citizens in their struggle to eradicate the injustice, oppression and hunger that blighted their lives. The storming of the Bastille on July 14, and the liberation of those prisoners unjustly held by the Ancien Régime, has shaped my conviction that the right to self-determination will always be claimed and enjoyed by the people themselves.

Today I am in a Bastille called “Ofer” in the occupied Palestinian Territory, being held for a third time under “administrative detention.” There have been no charges issued against me, and I and my fellow prisoners are subject to military courts similar to those that sentenced General De Gaulle to execution and citizenship revocation.

Mr. President, did you know that we, Palestinian political prisoners, are incarcerated in prisons established and operated by an occupying state considered to be practicing Apartheid by many human rights organizations and the United Nations? Do you know that one reason for this designation is the unjust use of ‘administrative detention,’ to imprison us without even the pretense of a trial? So far is this law from the standards of humanity that even Zionist leader Menachem Begin described it as “tyrannical, and unethical” in a Knesset debate in 1951.

Mr. President, what is the reason behind your double standard in the treatment of people living under oppression? I have seen you on several occasions defending the people of Ukraine and speaking up for the pain and torture they are facing, while you seem to have forgotten, or are deliberately ignoring, that we Palestinians have been facing injustices and occupation for 78 years now.

This occupying, colonial state has been continuously ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people from their land, yet you treat it with impunity and, by your actions, show that you consider it above the law.

Today, I truly believe that I am a fourth or fifth-class citizen of the French state. This is evident due to the state’s consistent negligence and lack of action to end my continued detention, which is taking place without any charges or trial.

Your excellency should be aware that the values of freedom, justice, and equality are indivisible and should be enjoyed by all peoples, along with their inalienable human rights. I hope that you will find the courage to act with a clear conscience and pressure the occupying state to ensure my immediate release.

Salah Hammouri.

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