Israel wants to deport me from my city of birth

Salah Hammouri and Elsa Lefort in Lifta, a Palestinian village near Jerusalem that was depopulated by Zionist forces in 1948. (Photograph courtesy of Salah Hammouri)

I am currently at risk of deportation by Israel from my home city, Jerusalem, where I was born to a Palestinian Jerusalemite father and a French mother and have lived all my life.

My wife, Elsa Lefort, is a French citizen. She was deported by Israel in 2016 while we were expecting our first child. For four years, I have been separated from my wife and son.

Our lives have been completely upended as a result of Israel’s policies and the continued false accusations and defamation intended to discredit my reputation and work as a human rights defender.

The Israeli authorities have recently escalated their assault against me. On 3 September, I was notified that Israel’s interior minister intends to revoke my permanent Jerusalem residency status, claiming that I allegedly “breached loyalty” to the State of Israel.

Israel is throwing the weight of the occupation against me, as it has countless other Palestinians. And not for the first time.

When I was 16 years old, I was arrested and detained for five months over my participation in student activities during the second intifada. In 2004, I was arrested again and spent another five months in detention without charge or trial.

In 2005, I was imprisoned for allegedly planning an attack against Ovadia Yosef, the late spiritual godfather and founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

I denied the accusations against me and served most of a seven-year sentence. I was released in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal.

Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri is the current leader of the Shas party.

Population transfer

After experiencing the Israeli occupation’s oppression and brutality at a young age, I resolved to become a vocal and passionate human rights defender.

In an attempt to regain control of my life after several years in prison, I enrolled in university, graduated from law school and immediately entered into a human rights program for my master’s degree. It was during that time that I met Elsa.

In 2015, Elsa and I decided to travel to France to visit her family before the birth of our son. Upon Elsa’s return on 5 January 2016, she was detained at Ben Gurion Airport for two days and ultimately denied entry.

Elsa had a one-year visa that she received through her work at the French consulate in Jerusalem, and was seven months pregnant at the time. Despite this, she was held at the airport alone, denied contact with anyone, did not receive any medical attention and was then returned to France.

Israel’s goal was to deny our son the right to be born in Jerusalem and hold Jerusalem residency status.

My family’s experience is not unique and my case is but one example of Israel’s systematic practice of population transfer and demographic manipulation in Palestine, particularly in Jerusalem.

Since 2018, following amendments made to the Entry into Israel Law, the Israeli interior minister has been empowered to revoke the residency of Palestinians in Jerusalem for “breach of loyalty to Israel.”

The very concept is ludicrous. How can a brutally subjugated and colonized population be expected to pledge loyalty to its occupier?

The amendment and a range of other Israeli policies are contrary to international humanitarian law and seek to expedite the removal of Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Israel has employed various strategies to force a 30:70 ratio of Palestinians to Israeli Jews in the city. Since 1967, it has revoked the residency of more than 14,500 Palestinians from Jerusalem, and thousands more face daily challenges to maintain their residency and existence in the city.


There have been some international denunciations of Israel’s policy of residency revocation on the basis of “breach of loyalty,” including my case.

France responded to Israel’s announcement that it will revoke my residency by declaring that I “should be able to lead a normal life in Jerusalem” along with my wife and son.

Israel has already punitively revoked the residency rights of more than 13 Palestinians from Jerusalem. These include three elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the former Palestinian Authority minister of Jerusalem affairs.

The list will continue to grow unless international condemnation is coupled with action in the face of ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.

Jerusalem is my home. Elsa and I had hoped to establish a life together as a family here and that is being denied to us.

No matter what the Israeli interior minister decides, my family and I remain committed to pursuing justice and to building a family life with dignity and peace in Palestine.

Salah Hammouri is a lawyer with the human rights group Addameer and is currently enrolled in a human rights master’s degree program at Al-Quds University.




Two-faced France: neither their "republic", nor French citizenship, nor "European civility" will conceal their hatred of the "new Jew": Arabs, even worse, their attack on Islam. France pandering to Israel will not atone France's collaboration with Nazi Germany.

As Prof. Abunimah said: "In Germany there is a strictly enforced – but intellectually lazy and morally repugnant – elite consensus that unconditional support for Israel and inaction in the face of its crimes against Palestinians are necessary to atone for the murder of millions of European Jews in German government death camps.

Few prominent German politicians have the courage or moral clarity to understand that genuine and principled atonement would mean applying the same human rights standards to Israel as to any other country.

Instead, actual German policy amounts to shielding and rewarding Israel as it commits war crimes and perpetrates conquest, occupation and apartheid with impunity decade after decade."

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Even in late December the valley was green, the sun was warm by the pool. Hedged in by cement and highways and barriers cresting the ridge above and buildings creeping up from the lower view, Lifta came alive as we walked quietly with the breeze whispering the laughter, the planting and harvest of generations. Our swarthy guide was silent as we listened together. Lifta lives in my heart.


As someone with Jewish roots I am ashamed and grieved to see what Judaism has become at the hands of the Zionists, filled with hatred and acting with frightening brutality against the very people they dispossessed. This terrible abuse has to stop. Right now.


Salah is a gret man, who was detained for years for no reason, and now they want to get rid of him.
Shame on the state of Israel !


Ethnic cleansing. I have said before in other places the cations of my people are appalling to me. BDS!