Salah Hamouri: One of Thousands of Israeli Political Prisoners – by Stephen Lendman
In March 2005, French/Palestinian Hamouri was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for allegedly co-conspiring with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) members to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s spiritual leader and former Israeli Chief Rabbi. At age 91, he’s very much alive as of January 25, 2011, Israel National News saying he recently visited President Shimon Peres “in a ‘shiva’ call,” offering condolences for his wife’s recent passing.
Based on secret Israeli intelligence, no proof, Hamouri was sentenced to seven years in prison after accepting a plea bargain. Over a two-year period, an Israeli military court convened over 20 times on his case. According to Claude Lefort, a pro-Palestinian activist and president of France’s AFD support committee, judges (on April 14, 2008) told him to plead guilty or face 14 years in prison. Though innocent of all charges, his lawyer, Leah Tsemel, advised him to do it after he initially denied all charges.
In October 2008, a National Committee to support him was established, co-chaired by Hind Khoury and Stephane Hessel. Lefort acts as coordinator. In May 2009, Hamouri was made an honorary town of Grigny citizen, and the mayor of Bourg-en-Bresse supports him. In addition, other French cities formed committees on his behalf, declaring him a political prisoner, an innocent man convicted without proof.
In early 2009, Israel denied his request for early release on good behavior. On June 8, 2009, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined, “France to Israel: Free man who plotted attack on Ovadia Yosef,” saying:
“French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner appealed to Israel for clemency…The unusual request was made after pro-Palestinian groups lobbied” for him, comparing his captivity to IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas as a prisoner of war. At the time, a Netanyahu spokesman said legal aspects were being reviewed. A response would follow. As of now, he’s still imprisoned.
On December 3, 2008, the web site Liberte Pour Salah provided biographical and other information. Aged 25, he was born in Jerusalem. His father, Hassan, is a local restaurateur. His mother, Denise, is a Bourg-en-Bresse native. Salah holds a French passport, registered at Jerusalem’s Consulate General of France.
Israeli harassment way predated his current imprisonment. It began on September 30, 2001 when he was arrested, isolated for two months in Jerusalem’s Moskobieh interrogation center despite being aged 16 at the time, then imprisoned for five months for posting “anti-Israeli propaganda” at school.
In February 2004, he was again baselessly arrested in Bethlehem, then held in administrative detention for four months. On March 13, 2005, his current confinement began, now a decade-long ordeal. His scheduled release date is November 21, 2011, but anything is possible in Israeli custody, especially for liberation activists.
Numerous past articles discussed Palestinian political prisoners, several accessed through the following links:
Though illegal (with no allowed exceptions) under international law and Section 277 of Israel’s 1977 Penal Law, most Palestinians detained, including children, are tortured, often brutally despite being innocent.
Incarceration conditions for all detainees are horrific, especially for those held in isolation. If sustained long enough, it destroys the human spirit, psyche, mind and body, producing symptoms ranging from severe anxiety, nightmares and confusion to profound despair, paranoia and suicidal thoughts.
As a political weapon, Israel imprisons, tortures and isolates thousands of Palestinians, punishing them for being Muslims under Jewish occupation, especially liberation advocates. Moreover, according to the Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, Israeli authorities detained over 650,000 Palestinians since 1967, including around 40% of all males. Anyone, anytime can be arrested, charged, imprisoned with or without charges. Activists are especially targeted, subject to repeated harassment and arrests like Hamoudi.
Besides freely used torture, imprisonment involves:
— severe overcrowding;
— poor ventilation and sanitation;
— no change of clothes or adequate amounts;
— wooden planks with thin mattresses for beds, some infested with vermin; blankets are often torn, filthy and inadequate; hot water is rare and soap is rationed;
— threadbare tents at the Negev Ketziot military detention camp, exposing detainees to extreme weather conditions, and in summer, to vermin, insects, scorpions, parasites, rats, and other reptiles;
— tents at Megiddo and Ofer besides its oil-soiled hangers;
— isolation for many in tiny, poorly ventilated confinement with no visitation rights or contact with counsel, family members or other prisoners;
— no access to personal cleanliness and hygiene, including restricted facilities, forcing prisoners to urinate in bottles in their cells;
— inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity, and dietary requirements;
— poor medical care, including lack of specialized personnel, mental health treatment, and denial of needed medicines and equipment; as a result, many suffer ill health; doctors are also pressured to deny proper treatment, some later admitting it;
— extreme psychological pressure to break detainees’ will;
— widespread use of torture, abuse, cruel and degrading treatment;
— women and children treated like men;
— NGOs like Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and the ICRC deterred from providing aid; and for all detainees
— imposed conditions linking visits:
“with the overall security situation, requiring that prisoners must not be security prisoners and that persons applying for visits must not have a security record, requiring that visitors be first-degree relatives and that brothers or sons applying for visits must be under the age of 18.”
Israel treats Palestinians brutally, subjecting them to prohibited treatment under international law, including torture. Hamouri is no exception, despite strong support (including from the French Jewish Union for Peace and hundreds of individuals globally) as well as diplomatic efforts to free him.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.