Israel deported a French-Palestinian lawyer it accused of organizing, inciting and planning “terrorist attacks” to France early Sunday morning, Israeli authorities said, in a case that an Israeli human rights organization called a “gross violation of basic rights.”
Salah Hamouri’s Israeli residency was revoked two weeks ago based on accusations by Israel he was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), according to Israel’s interior ministry. The PFLP is designated by the European Union and the United States as a terrorist organization.
“During his life he organized, incited and planned to carry out terrorist attacks himself and for the organization against citizens and prominent figures in Israel,” a statement from the interior ministry said.
In a voice message posted on the Instagram account of the official Palestinian civil society campaign for Hamouri on Sunday, Hamouri said he was being “forcibly deported and uprooted from my homeland.”
“I leave you today from prison to exile. But rest assured that I will always remain the person you know. Always loyal to you and to your freedom,” Hamouri said in the message.
Hamouri, who had been in an Israeli prison since March on administrative detention without formal charges, has denied involvement in terrorist organizations, and human rights groups have condemned Israel’s actions.
“Deporting a Palestinian from their homeland for breach of allegiance to the state of Israel is a dangerous precedent and a gross violation of basic rights,” human rights organization HaMoked said in a statement on Sunday.
The Israel-based organization called Hamouri’s deportation a “gross violation of basic rights.”
France’s Foreign Ministry said the deportation was “against the law.”
The ministry said France has been working “to ensure that Mr. Salah Hamouri’s rights are respected, that he benefits from all means of recourse and that he can lead a normal life in Jerusalem, where he was born, resides and wishes to live.”
The statement from the foreign ministry expressed France’s “opposition to the expulsion of a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, an occupied territory under the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Israel disputes that east Jerusalem, which it captured in 1967, is occupied territory.
Hamouri had been held previously by Israeli authorities. He has always maintained his innocence of Israeli accusations against him.
In 2005 he was tried and convicted of working on a plan to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, founder of the Shas ultra-orthodox political party.
He was released in 2011 as part of an exchange of 1,027 Palestinian and other Arab prisoners held by Israel as part of a deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006.
He had been living and working as a lawyer in Jerusalem since then, including doing work as a human-rights lawyer for Adameer, an organization that helps Palestinian prisoners. Adameer was outlawed by Israel earlier this year in a move condemned by UN officials.
Hamouri was born in east Jerusalem, although he also holds French citizenship.
Leah Tsemel, Hamouri’s lawyer, told CNN on Sunday that Hamouri’s case is a “test bullet” for the interior ministry to deny residency of east Jerusalem residents.
“We will have to address the issue in principle in a petition to the Supreme Court soon regarding the unconstitutionality of denying residency to a person that was born in Jerusalem under occupation and does not have a duty of loyalty, the violation of which is the reason for denying his residency,” Zemel told CNN.
HaMoked previously appealed the decision to revoke Hamouri’s residency and requested an injunction to prevent his deportation until its case challenging the legality of the law is heard, but the Supreme Court rejected both pleas.
HaMoked said it will be able to file a new petition to the High Court once the new Israeli government takes power in the coming weeks.