When French President Emmanuel Macron sits down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this Sunday – International Human Rights Day – French-Palestinian binational Salah Hamouri will enter his 111th day in Israeli administrative detention – detention without charge or trial.
Israeli authorities detained the 32-year-old researcher, who works for the Palestinian human rights group Addameer, after raiding his home in East Jerusalem in late August. At the time of his arrest, Hamouri had been preparing to visit his wife and toddler son in Paris. The family had been forced to live separately ever since Israeli authorities deported Hamouri’s wife, a French national, last year citing “security reasons.” Hamouri never did make his family reunion, and has been detained since without charge or trial based on secret evidence. In September, an Israeli court confirmed a military administrative order to detain him for six months, and that can be renewed.
This isn’t Hamouri’s first time in Israeli detention – authorities imprisoned him between 2005 and 2011. After about three years in pretrial detention, an Israeli military court sentenced him to seven years in prison for charges related to an alleged plot to kill Israel’s former chief rabbi. In 2011, then French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé expressed regret that the case against Hamouri lacked strong evidentiary support. Human Rights Watch has documented how military trials by the Israeli army, which have a near 100-percent conviction rate, fall well short of any standards of justice. He was subsequently released in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
Hamouri’s current case is hardly unique – Israeli authorities are also holding Addameer board member Khalida Jarrar and 451 others in administrative detention as of November 1, according to Israel Prison Service figures. While international humanitarian law permits administrative detention in temporary and exceptional circumstances, Israel’s expansive use of administrative detention in year 51 of its occupation raises questions about its legality.
In October, the French Foreign Ministry called for Hamouri’s rights to “be respected” and expressed hope for his release, saying that, “the systematic and abusive use of administrative detention undermines the right to fair trial and the right to a defense.” Macron should use his bilateral meeting with Netanyahu to call for Hamouri to be either charged or released promptly. Macron should also press his Israeli counterpart to end Israel’s other systematic abuses of Palestinian rights.