ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Palestinian lawyer deported to France vows to ‘continue my struggle’

Salah Hamouri, sent to Paris last month due to Israeli allegation of membership in the PFLP terror group, says Israel has ‘no evidence’ and that France did not do enough to help

Palestinian French-lawyer and activist Salah Hamouri talks to reporters as he arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after his extradition from Israel to France, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
Palestinian French-lawyer and activist Salah Hamouri talks to reporters as he arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after his extradition from Israel to France, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

PARIS — Palestinian lawyer and activist Salah Hamouri vowed to keep up his fight for the rights of the Palestinian people despite his deportation to France following Israel’s claim that he has ties to a banned terrorist group.

Hamouri, who holds French citizenship, landed in Paris on December 18 following months of legal wrangling, despite France’s public opposition to the expulsion.

His deportation underscored the fragile status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, where most hold revocable residency rights but are not Israeli citizens.

In an interview with the Associated Press this week, Hamouri said his deportation “will leave me only the courage to continue my struggle against the Israeli occupation and to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.”

“I can’t imagine myself living out of Jerusalem and out of Palestine because this is the place where I grew up. This is the place where I want to live and this is the place where I want to go back,” he said.

Hamouri said Israeli authorities followed through with his deportation to send a “clear message” that Palestinians in Jerusalem should leave the city in order to “have an Israeli majority in Jerusalem with a minority of Palestinian people.”

Palestinian French-lawyer and activist Salah Hamouri is greeted as he arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after his extradition from Israel to France, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Israel says that Hamouri is an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group that it, the United States and the European Union have labeled a terrorist organization. He has worked as a lawyer for Adameer, a rights group that assists Palestinian prisoners that Israel has banned for alleged ties to the PFLP.

He spent seven years in prison after being convicted in an alleged plot to kill a prominent rabbi, but was released in a 2011 prisoner swap with Hamas. He was not charged or convicted in the most recent legal proceedings against him.

But Israel claimed he continued to be active with the banned group, stripped him of residency, and placed him last March in administrative detention — a status that allows Israel to hold suspected terrorists for months at a time without charging them or putting them on trial.

Hamouri rejected Israel’s accusations.

“Israeli authorities have no evidence that I’m a member of the Palestinian organization (PFLP),” he told the AP. “If they have had evidence, they would have been able to show it to the French authorities, which they did not.”

“I am an advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people… and human rights and I am a lawyer. I defended Palestinian political prisoners and it’s my right,” he said.

Salah Hamouri is greeted after arriving at his home in Jerusalem following his released from Israeli prison in a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, Dec. 18, 2011. (Sliman Khader/FLASH90)

Hamouri said France didn’t “work enough to help me and my cause” and had opted not to use “means of pressure” at its disposal. He urged French authorities “to use the best means of pressure so that I can go back home.”

France’s Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s deportation of Hamouri after his arrival in Paris, saying it has “taken full action, including at the highest level of the state” to ensure Hamouri’s rights are respected, receives due process and lead “a normal life in Jerusalem, where he was born, resides and wishes to live.”

Hamouri said he is spending time his wife and children, who are French, in the Paris region, resting and recovering from a 19-day hunger strike he went on in October to protest Israel’s policy of administrative detention.

He did not provide details on how he will continue his political activities.

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