Repression. Salah Hamouri takes the world to witness


Lawyer, human rights defender and Franco-Palestinian researcher, Salah Hamouri was arrested on March 7, at his home in East Jerusalem, an occupied part of the city, and immediately imprisoned. A detention extended on June 5 for three months, without any reason having been given to him or even to his lawyers. The 37-year-old has been detained multiple times by Israel under the administrative detention regime. In all, Salah Hamouri spent almost two and a half years in prison via this procedure. Between 2005 and 2011, he had already spent seven years in Israeli jails after a charade of justice.

From his place of imprisonment, he sent a letter to Emmanuel Macron to which the French president did not deign to respond. On the other hand, the prison authorities punished Salah Hamouri and, from Ofer prison where he was, they transferred him to a high security establishment with much harsher conditions. The harassment doesn’t stop there. Since September 2020, a procedure has been launched to revoke his status as a permanent resident of Jerusalem (where he was born) for « breach of allegiance to the State of Israel » under the pretext of belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). His phone was hacked by Pegasus spyware.

Will Salah Hamouri be released at the beginning of September at the end of the three months of administrative detention or will it be renewed? Nothing assures us that Emmanuel Macron will act to free our compatriot. However, it is time to give voice so that Salah Hamouri regains freedom once and for all and lives with his wife and children until now forbidden to go to Palestine, to Jerusalem.

I am registration number 1124052

Salah Hamouri. Ofer prison (occupied Palestinian territory), July 2022.

How long will we remain numbers? For twenty-one years, I carried the registration number 1124052. Even today, it is by this number that the « Israeli prison services » define who I am. A number that sticks to my skin since my first detention when I was still a child, in 2001.

For those of us who have been arrested multiple times, this number has become a sort of barcode. It makes us feel like nothing more than prison wares. Human products intended to be consumed at each new interrogation and in each detention center, in wartime or in peacetime, before the “cold war” and after the war of attrition, during Oslo and after the Intifada.

This human commodity of prisons remains the only invariant of this equation, knowing no expiration date.

The occupation does not consider us or treat us as human beings with the right to live like any free person. Instead, she does everything she can to stifle the pseudo-life that we Palestinians lead outside the prison walls.

Icon Quote Prison breaks us and crushes our dreams, our hopes just like an olive is crushed in the press. Salah Hamouri

We have to snatch small moments of life and happiness between each time in detention, while having to fear the fleeting joy and stability of our lives. For fear of the next shock that will hit us and of disappointments, we no longer have the courage to plan for an ever more distant future. Anxiety and instability hang over us and everyone around us.

By a certain irony of fate, our dreams grow and sublimate the very moment we enter the prison. First of all, we regret every cheerful and happy moment that we did not enjoy while we were in the world of freedom. Then our dreams begin to intersect with the memory of the world left behind. And we find ourselves imagining that when we are freed, these waking dreams that inhabit us will eventually mingle with the world as we left it. The only possible explanation for this phenomenon is that, for us, the world stopped the very moment we were locked up. Thus, we build imaginary worlds, a reality made of dreams.

What is most painful and difficult despite everything is to know that as big as our dreams are, our existence is shrinking. Our dreams of freedom – wife, family and friends – collide with bitter evidence. So we realize that the prisoner’s aspiration is limited to one of us being forgotten for five minutes by the guard when closing time at 6 p.m., or to hearing a song on the radio furtively evoking the memory days spent beyond prison walls.

Prison is the worst place for a human being, a place unlike any other. It breaks us and crushes our dreams, our aspirations and our hopes just as an olive is crushed in the press. The most execrable feeling is the condition of expectation, magnified inside the prison. The progressive wear and tear of the mind in prison is similar to how global warming depletes the Earth outside of the prison environment.

And yet the question that torments me these days is: if I feel so bad in this state of expectation – when only a few kilometers away is my homeland, my freedom and my city, Jerusalem – , so what would the wait be like if I had to agree to be exiled far from home?

I know that the love of a fatherland is a one-sided love, which brings only sorrow, pain and loss. He robbed me of the best years of my life, he robbed me of my adolescence, my youth, and forced me to age far too quickly. Despite all this, I adore my homeland, knowing full well that, even giving it everything, it will still ask: « What more can you give? » It’s a losing equation by most people’s calculations, and I understand that. But for me, real life is not waiting at the station for the freedom train to reach us. Real life is being on the train itself, no matter the sacrifice.

Icon TitleThe far right wants to « deport » communist deputies

Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right Israeli MP, has understood that the November legislative elections will not be played on the left, or even in the center, but on the right in all its possible range. For several months, he has multiplied provocations by accompanying the settlers on the esplanade of the Mosques, creating ever more tension in East Jerusalem and, beyond, in the occupied territories. Suffice to say that this parliamentarian does not like those who denounce colonization and occupation. In the polls, his formation, Otzma Yehudit, would obtain eight seats. Which, in tight majorities, makes him a kingmaker and above all, in the context of a coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud, a future minister.

This “Israeli Le Pen” sets the tone. He has long advocated the expulsion of Arabs who, for him, are only a fifth column. He now wants to ban MPs he considers « traitors » to the state. A belch which, in his mouth, becomes: “It is our duty to deport (such people) from here, to deprive them of their citizenship. The MP believes that “there are many countries looking for labour”, particularly in Europe. We do not know, in France, what the UDI deputy, Meyer Habib, thinks about it. communist deputies of the Joint List.

The first is Muslim, the second is Jewish. Ben-Gvir hinted that there might be a different standard for Jewish and Arab violence. He referred to the High Court’s rejection in 2017 of a petition calling for the homes of the Jewish killers of a Palestinian teenager to be demolished, saying the murder was « not terrorism ». P.B.


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