Israel announced earlier in the week that it had stripped Salah Hammouri of his Jerusalem residency and ordered his deportation to France, alleging the jailed lawyer is an activist in a "banned militant group".
Israel’s decision to deport French-Palestinian human rights defender and lawyer Salah Hammouri to France against his will may constitute a war crime under the Geneva Convention, UN experts have said.
“Such unilateral, arbitrary measures taken by Israeli authorities in retaliation against Mr Hammouri as a human rights defender violate every principle and the very spirit of international law,” Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 and Fionnuala Ni Aolain, special rapporteur on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said on Friday.
Israel reaffirmed the revocation of Hammouri’s permanent residency in Jerusalem on November 30. Under the Israeli law, the interior minister has the power to revoke the residency of Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem.
Authorities said Hammouri would be deported on December 4 to France because of his alleged “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel” and based on secret evidence.
The French government has repeatedly urged the Israeli authorities to release Hammouri and allow him to live with his family in Jerusalem.
The deportation of protected persons from an occupied territory is prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, said experts.
“These measures set an extremely dangerous precedent for all Palestinians in Jerusalem. The international community must not remain silent and quietly watch this umpteenth violation,” they said.
Hammouri is a human rights lawyer known for advocating for the rights of prisoners, including torture survivors.
He works with the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association — an internationally respected human rights organistion — and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture grantee.
Israel designated Addameer and other Palestinian civil society organisations as “terrorist” and “unlawful” in October 2021.
'Sadistic' detention practices
Hammouri was placed in administrative detention on March 7. Israel's administrative detention is a procedure that allows the authorities to detain Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.
Since July, Hammouri has been detained at a high-security prison under degrading conditions as a form of punishment after he engaged in a hunger strike and appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to urge Israel to end his detention.
In October, UN independent experts condemned Israel's measures against Hammouri as "sadistic".
“We are concerned by Israel’s pervasive misuse of administrative and criminal law proceedings and use of secret information against Palestinians, including human rights defenders such as Mr Hammouri," they said.
“The detention practices Mr Hammouri is being subjected to are not just unlawful: they are sadistic.”
Experts said Hammouri was at risk of expulsion due to his alleged involvement in “terrorist activities” and “breach of allegiance” to Israel.
The allegations are based on secret information that he cannot challenge.