Israel urged to release French-Palestinian human rights lawyer

Israel urged to release French-Palestinian human rights lawyer
French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri was arrested on March 7 at his home in East Jerusalem based on secret evidence, Human Rights Watch said. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 16 August 2022

Israel urged to release French-Palestinian human rights lawyer

Israel urged to release French-Palestinian human rights lawyer
  • Human Rights Watch: ‘Through Salah Hamouri, Israeli authorities are escalating their all-out assault on Palestinian civil society’
  • ‘Hamouri’s plight embodies the struggle of Palestinian human rights defenders challenging Israel’s apartheid and persecution’

LONDON: Human Rights Watch has called on Israel to release 37-year-old French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri and reinstate his residency status in his home city of Jerusalem.

Hamouri was arrested on March 7 at his home in East Jerusalem based on secret evidence, and has had no charges brought against him since, HRW said.

His residency was revoked on Oct. 17 last year on grounds of “breach(ing) allegiance” to Israel, and for his alleged association with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was accused of “hostile, dangerous and significant activity against the state of Israel.”

HRW said under international law, occupying countries are forbidden from compelling occupied peoples to swear allegiance to them.

Hamouri worked for the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, which was banned by Israel in 2021 less than a week after his arrest, and branded “terrorist” by the authorities. He now faces possible deportation to France.

Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at HRW, said: “Israeli authorities have detained Salah Hamouri without trial or charges for months, outlawed the human rights group he works for, and revoked his legal status in Jerusalem.

“Hamouri’s plight embodies the struggle of Palestinian human rights defenders challenging Israel’s apartheid and persecution.”

The Israel Defense Forces initially detained Hamouri for three months from March 10 based on secret information about his alleged involvement with the PFLP, and extended the detention on June 6. It is set to expire on Sept. 5, but the detention order can be renewed.

An appeal against his imprisonment lodged by Hamouri was dismissed by an appellate military court on Aug. 4.

No evidence has ever been presented against him, and his incarceration is a violation of his right to freedom of association, HRW said.

In December last year, Hamouri had his health insurance terminated on grounds of having left the country, and because he could no longer prove his residency in East Jerusalem.

In July, Hamouri wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron about his case, which led to him being designated “high security” and transferred out of the Occupied Territories to Hadarim Prison in Israel — another breach of international law.

Addameer says he was shackled, frequently searched and placed in a holding cage while in transit in Ramleh Prison, Israel.

His parents said after his arrest, mobile phones and a laptop were confiscated from Hamouri. In November, Amnesty International confirmed reports by human rights groups that his phone, along with the phones of other Palestinian human rights campaigners, had been hacked using Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus software.

Israeli rights group HaMoked, which is representing Hamouri, said his deportation challenge will be heard in February 2023.

Israel deported his wife, French national Elsa Lefort, in 2016, banning her from returning for 10 years on security grounds.

This separated her from her husband and children, and has prevented her from visiting Hamouri in detention.

He was previously jailed between 2005 and 2011, including three years of pre-trial detention, by a military court in relation to a plot to assassinate the former chief rabbi of Israel — a case that former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said lacked evidence, and which HRW said fell short of acceptable standards of justice. Hamouri was also detained separately by Israel from August 2017 to September 2018.

The day before his arrest earlier this year, he was quoted in Jacobin magazine as saying: “These actions are directed toward one single aim: Forcing me to leave Palestine.”

In April, he filed a criminal complaint in France against NSO Group, and in May he filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court against the Israeli government.

Israel held 671 Palestinians in administrative detention at the start of August, according to HaMoked.

HRW called on Israel to end the practice — saying it far exceeds any provision for detention by occupying forces set out in international law — and to stop its campaign against Hamouri.

Shakir said: “Through Salah Hamouri, Israeli authorities are escalating their all-out assault on Palestinian civil society and seeking to set a dangerous precedent that would allow them to more expeditiously force out Palestinians. French authorities should press Israel to stop harassing Hamouri.”


More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
Updated 29 November 2022

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
  • The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered

TEHRAN: More than 300 people have been killed in Iran since protests erupted over the death in morality police custody of Mahsa Amini on September 16, a Revolutionary Guards general said Tuesday.
“Everyone in the country has been affected by the death of this lady. I don’t have the latest figures, but I think we have had perhaps more than 300 martyrs and people killed in this country, including children, since this incident,” Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajjizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division, said in a video published by the Mehr news agency.
The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered.
The latest official toll is much closer to the figure of at least 416 “killed in the suppression of protests in Iran” published by Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
The group says its toll includes those killed in violence related to the Amini protests and in distinct unrest in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.


UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’
Updated 29 November 2022

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’
  • Dubai police arrest 6 ‘high-value’ suspects linked to Netherlands, Spain, France
  • Emirates committed to joint global security pacts, says deputy PM

DUBAI: The UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan lauded on Monday the arrest of 49 drug kingpins, including six chief suspects in Dubai, involved in a “super-cartel” that controlled a third of Europe’s cocaine trade network.

The arrests were the result of coordinated efforts between the UAE’s Ministry of Interior, the Dubai Police General Command, the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation Europol, and several overseas law enforcement agencies.

 

 

With the support of Europol, parallel investigations launched in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE targeted the activities of the prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.

Over 30 tons of drugs were seized by law enforcement officers during the massive international operation, Europol said.

Dubai had arrested two “high-value” suspects with ties to the Netherlands, two with ties to Spain, and two with ties to France.

“One of the Dutch suspects is an extremely big fish,” a Europol source told AFP.

 

 

Another 13 people were arrested in Spain, six in France and 10 in Belgium, while 14 people were nabbed in 2021 in the Netherlands as part of the same operation, Europol said.

Sheikh Saif attributed the success of Operation Desert Light to the cooperation between nations and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Joint agreements remained a key part of the UAE’s commitment to global safety and security, he said.

In September, Europol and the UAE Ministry of Interior signed a Liaison Officer Agreement, as part of this commitment to tackle transnational crime, Europol said. The agreement ensures the deployment of UAE law enforcement liaison officers to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

A UAE official has already joined the network of over 250 liaison officers from more than 50 countries and organizations with permanent representation at Europol.


Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank
Updated 29 November 2022

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank
  • Rioters hurled bombs and fired shots at soldiers who responded with live fire

JERUSALEM: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry said, the latest deaths in a sharp uptick in violence in the occupied territory.
Two brothers were killed by Israeli fire in Kafr Ein, near Ramallah, while a third man died of bullet wounds to the head fired by Israeli troops in Beit Ummar, near the flashpoint city of Hebron, the ministry said.
Commenting on the Beit Ummar clash, the Israeli army said it had opened fire on “rioters” who “hurled rocks and improvised explosive devices at the soldiers” after two vehicles got stuck during an “operation patrol” in the area.
The Palestinian ministry said a man it did not identify had died “after being shot in the head.”
It named the dead in Kafr Ein as brothers Jawad Abdulrahman Rimawi, 22, and Dhafer Abdul Rahman Rimawi, 21.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.
Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh described the killing of the two brothers as an “execution in cold blood.”
Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs Gaza, said the Israeli “escalation” would be “confronted by escalating resistance” from Palestinians.
Violence has flared this year in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has launched near-daily raids across the territory.
This week the army announced it had made more than 3,000 arrests this year as part of Operation Break the Wave, a campaign it launched following a series of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.
The United Nations says more than 125 Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank this year. Israel has occupied the territory since the Six-Day War of 1967.


Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians
Updated 29 November 2022

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians
  • Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in Jenin
  • The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault

JERUSALEM: Three Israeli soldiers were detained on Monday, the military said, after allegedly hurling an improvised bomb at Palestinians near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as revenge for the seizing of the body of a teenager last week.
On Wednesday, in the occupied West Bank, which has seen an intensification of violence since March, Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in the town of Jenin where he had been taken after a car accident, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault to recover the teenager’s body. But it was quietly returned after some 30 hours following negotiations that, according to a diplomat, had involved the United Nations.
The gunmen did not announce their motivation, but Palestinians demonstrated in Jenin the same day, demanding the release of remains of their relatives which they said Israel was holding. The Druze are an Arab community in Israel whose members serve in its armed forces.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the attack on Palestinians near Bethlehem on Monday by Israeli Druze soldiers but could not provide further details.
Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz said if it came to light that the incident was an act of revenge, the military is dealing with a “severe incident which requires accountability.”
“Israeli soldiers don’t take the law into their hands and exact revenge,” Gantz tweeted.


197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine

197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine
Updated 29 November 2022

197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine

197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine
  • The letters cite examples of previous deterrent, preventive ICC statements that proved effective in preventing Israeli crimes against Palestinians
  • They also said recent raids on Palestinian civil society organizations could amount to “offenses against the administration of justice” under the ICC’s Rome Statute

RAMALLAH: Almost 200 organizations have sent letters to the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor and the president of the court’s Assembly of States Parties calling on them to take action over the situation in Palestine, the Palestine News and Information Agency reported on Monday.

It comes ahead of the 21st annual session of the ASP, the ICC’s governing body, which will meet from Dec. 5 to 10 at The Hague in the Netherlands to discuss hey issues relating to the court’s future operations.

The letter to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan urges him to act to halt crimes committed by Israel’s apartheid regime in Palestine, reminding him that his mandate grants him the authority not only to investigate international crimes but also to monitor situations under investigation by his office and to provide an “early warning” function.

The letter — sent by 197 Palestinian, regional and international civil society organizations — refers to a policy paper from the Office of the Prosecutor that provides a framework for deterrent, preventive statements that allow the office to respond to outbreaks of violence and other crimes by quickly engaging with states and non-governmental organizations to “verify information on alleged crimes, to encourage genuine national proceedings and to prevent reoccurrence of crimes.”

It also gives examples of preventive statements that previously proved effective in Palestine. In 2018, for example, the Office of the Prosecutor issued a preventive statement regarding the planned forced eviction of Bedouin residents from the village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the West Bank. The Israeli foreign minister subsequently confirmed that Israeli authorities did not carry out the evictions “out of concerns of an ICC investigation.”

The letter stated that there have been “important missed opportunities for preventive statements in the past year.”

The letter sent to the ASP President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi highlighted the assembly’s proposal for the implementation of a recommendation by the Independent Expert Review, in which the organization reaffirmed its commitment to “uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats or measures against the court, its officials and those cooperating with it, and renews its resolve to stand united against impunity.”

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted in July 1998 and came into force on July 1, 2002.

The ASP proposal reiterates that its president bears the primary responsibility for coordinating an appropriate response to any threat that could undermine the integrity, effectiveness or impartiality of the ICC.

Both letters note that on Oct. 22, 2021, Israel outlawed six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations, and that their offices, along with those of a seventh group, were raided on Aug. 18 this year by Israeli forces who confiscated computers and other equipment and sealed the entrances under military orders.

The letters stressed that such Israeli actions of effectively “tampering with or interfering with the collection of evidence” during an investigation or trial stage might amount to “offenses against the administration of justice” under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.

They also refer to a 2016 report by the Office of the Prosecutor on preliminary examination activities, which acknowledged that employees of Palestinian organizations, including human rights organization Al-Haq (one of the outlawed organizations) and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, who had helped to gather information relevant to the office’s preliminary examination, had been subjected to threats and other forms of intimidation and interference.

The letters called on the ICC prosecutor and the ASP president “to respond to Israel’s latest attacks on Palestinian (civil society organizations) and defend human rights defenders who cooperate with the court.”

They added that such Palestinian organizations will continue to be active participants in the Rome Statute framework and cooperate with the court in its investigations into the situation in Palestine.