“Israel is throwing the weight of the occupation against me, as it has [against] countless other Palestinians. And not for the first time,” Palestinian-French human rights defender Salah Hammouri wrote in The Electronic Intifada almost two years ago.
Once again, Israel has thrown its weight against Hammouri by jailing him.
The Israeli army stormed Hammouri’s home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kufr Aqab on Monday, arrested him and transferred him to Ofer military prison.
Hammouri, 36, has endured years of harassment by Israel. Among the measures to which he has been subjected are arbitrary arrests, travel bans and phone snooping.
Hammouri wrote an article for the magazine Jacobin shortly before his latest arrest.
The article details the harassment he has faced over the years from Israeli occupation forces, concluding it has “one single aim: forcing me to leave Palestine.”
A Jerusalem native, Hammouri has spent most of his life in the city, but Israel has sought to deport him to France. Israeli authorities revoked his permanent residency in October for “breach of allegiance to the state of Israel.”
Hammouri had long refused to be obedient in the way Israel demanded.
“The very concept is ludicrous. How can a brutally subjugated and colonized population be expected to pledge loyalty to its occupier?” Hamouri wrote in The Electronic Intifada.
Hammouri is a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer, one of six organizations declared as “terrorist” by Israel in October.
Hammouri was also one of six individuals in these organizations whose phones were hacked by Israel’s notorious NSO Group spyware.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said last week that the designations “were based on vague and unsubstantiated allegations” and that her office was “unaware of any credible evidence” that supported them.Bachelet emphasized that those designations are “being used to halt, restrict or criminalize legitimate human rights and humanitarian work” and constitute an “attack” on those who carry out that work.
She urged Israel to revoke the designations.
“Dramatic rise” in killings
Earlier this week, Bachelet noted the “dramatic rise” in Palestinian killings at the hands of Israeli occupation forces, with 32 deaths in 2020 and 320 in 2021.
She observed an increase in the number and severity of settler attacks against Palestinians.
Notably, some 30 Palestinian cars were vandalized overnight on Wednesday. The cars were daubed with Hebrew slogans in Jaljulia, a small Palestinian town in Israel.
Vandalism of this sort is often referred to as a “price tag” – a term Israeli settlers and extremists use to describe sometimes lethal attacks.
The case of Hammouri is so noteworthy that it was included in the report Amnesty International published last month declaring that Israel practices apartheid.
Israel’s accusations and smears are “intended to discredit my reputation and work as a human rights defender,” he wrote in The Electronic Intifada.
Israel has been detaining Hammouri since he was a teen, and he previously spent years in Israeli jails.
Hammouri denied the charges against him and served most of the length of his sentence before being released as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas in 2011.