Salah Hamouri: Palestinian rights lawyer in Israeli prison goes on hunger strike
Hamouri, 37, was arrested on 7 March at his home in the Kufr Aqab neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, and has since been held in administrative detention - an Israeli policy largely used against Palestinians to hold them without charges or trial for periods of up to six months, renewable indefinitely.
The lawyer is among 30 Palestinian detainees held in administrative detention who went on hunger strike on Sunday to protest against the controversial measure.
“We will continue with our struggle, knowing what awaits us of repression, abuse, isolation, confiscation of our clothes and pictures of our children, thrown into concrete cells devoid of everything, except for our bodies and our pain,” the prisoners said in a statement declaring their hunger strike.
“We barely have air to breathe.”
Israel extended Hamouri’s detention the first time in June, over alleged links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which he denies. On 5 September his detention was extended for another three months.
Hamouri, a researcher with the Palestinian prisoners’ rights NGO Addameer, has spent a total of eight years in Israeli prisons over different periods, for his political activism. In 2005, Israel sentenced him to seven years for an alleged PFLP plot to assassinate a right-wing rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, an accusation he denied.
'The abomination of prison'
In October 2021, Israeli authorities revoked his East Jerusalem residency, denying him the right to live in his home town, which Israel captured in 1967.
Many Palestinian residents of Jerusalem’s occupied eastern neighbourhoods refuse Israeli citizenship and instead hold residency IDs issued by Israel's interior ministry. However, Israel can revoke the residency status, forcing Palestinians from their home.
The #JusticeforSalah campaign said on Wednesday that Hamouri, who is being held in the maximum security prison Hadarim, has been moved into solitary confinement in a 2x2 square metre cell with no windows and a 10-centimetre mattress.
“The Israeli occupation…neither sees us nor treats us as human beings with the same rights to liberty as any other free person. Instead, it does its utmost to keep our pseudo-lives in check, when we, Palestinians, are not being kept behind prison walls,” Hamouri wrote in an opinion piece for Middle East Eye in July.
“The ultimate abomination of prison is the perpetual state of waiting, amplified by the prison walls. Little by little, the waiting wears down the mind.”
The lawyer’s wife, Elsa Lefor, a French national, and their two children, who live in France, have not been allowed to visit or speak to Hamouri on the phone since his arrest.
There are currently 743 Palestinians being held in administrative detention, the highest number for six years, according to Addameer.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.