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Israeli court reinstates former prison sentence for Palestinian-French NGO worker

Sept. 5, 2017 9:24 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 8, 2017 6:26 P.M.)
Addameer's field researcher Salah Hamouri detained by Israeli forces during raid on Aug. 23, 2017 (Credit: Addameer)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Jerusalem court replaced a six-month administrative detention order -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- issued against human rights defender Salah Hamouri, and replaced it with a reinstatement of a past sentence against him in 2005.

The court reinstated the rest of the prison sentence against Hamouri, who is a field researcher for Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, and rescinded the administrative order that was issued against him last week, according to a statement released by Addameer,

Hamouri, 32, who holds dual Palestinian-French citizenship, was released three months early from his nearly seven-year sentence in Israeli prison during the Wafa al-Ahrar, or Gilad Shalit prisoners exchange deal in 2011. According to Addameer, the judge has ordered Hamouri to serve the rest of this sentence.

The Israeli prosecution and Israeli intelligence have decided to appeal the decision, Addameer said.

Hamouri was detained during an overnight raid last month from his home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab.

The East Jerusalem resident was banned from entering the occupied West Bank until Sept. 2016, and his wife Elsa Lefort is currently banned by Israeli authorities from entering the occupied Palestinian territory or Israel.

In an unusually high-profile case illustrating the difficulties Palestinians face to obtain -- and keep -- their East Jerusalem residency, Lefort was detained and deported by Israeli authorities in 2016 when she was six-and-a-half months pregnant.

According to the statement, Mahmoud Hassan, an attorney for Addameer, said that the decision to reinstate the rest of Hamouri’s prison sentence did nothing to prevent Israeli authorities from redetaining Hamouri under administrative detention once he finished his sentence.

Addameer noted that the group “believes that this decision comes in response to the international pressure and campaigns calling for the immediate release of Hamouri.” And, therefore, the sentence “represents an attempt at legitimizing Hamouri's detainment.”

Addameer added that Hamouri’s detention “represents an egregious attack by the occupation against the work of human rights defenders in Palestine.”

Addameer said in the past that the issue was not just the detention of Hamouri, but Israel’s “systematic policy of disempowerment.”

“The aim is to ensure that any work to supporting the Palestinian quest for self-determination is punished severely. The thinking goes that if enough are punished, and the weight is too much to bear, the rest will be dismayed and accept the status quo. They will be resigned to the fact that they are part of a state structure that treats them as subjects, who can be imprisoned and stripped of the rights at will,” Addameer said.

Addameer has also noted that the group considers administrative detention, which allows Israeli authorities to imprison someone without disclosing any evidence against them, to be a form of “arbitrary detention” and “psychological torture.”

Palestinians could develop a variety of psychological disorders owing to the controversial policy, the group said, including long-term depression and chronic anxiety.

Rights groups and activists have long pointed out that Israel’s use of administrative detention has been used as a tool by Israel to detain Palestinians without justification. The policy is almost exclusively used against Palestinians.

Among the 6,279 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, 465 are administrative detainees, according to Addameer.
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