Israel Frees French-Palestinian After 13 Months Without Trial

JERUSALEM — Israel on Sunday released a French-Palestinian lawyer held without charge for the past 13 months over unspeci­fied allegations, his attorney said.

Salah Hamouri, 33, was freed at the Jerusalem police headquar­ters after being brought from a prison in Israel’s Negev desert.

Attorney Mahmud Hassan said Hamouri was forbidden to take part in protest demonstra­tions or celebrations of his release for next 30 days and required to post a bond of 3,000 shekels ($825). He was arrested at his home in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on Aug 23, 2017 and subsequently interned under what Israel calls administrative detention, which allows detention without trial for renewable six-month periods.

Neither suspects nor their lawyers are informed of the rea­sons for arrests and Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency had no immediate comment when asked by AFP for the reasons be­hind Hamouri’s detention.

“Freedom is an indescribable feeling,” Hamouri said after his re­lease, while saying he felt France had not done enough to push for it. “The detention system in Israeli prisons is often hard. The Israelis try everything to imprison our will, to isolate us from our society and our family.” He said he had not been in contact with his wife or son during his detention, and that Israel had refused a visa request for his wife who lives in France.

Israeli authorities have in the past accused Hamouri of belong­ing to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel, the US and the European Union list as a terrorist group. Hamouri has denied it, according to his wife, contacted in France.

French President Emmanuel Ma­cron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed his case several times with Israeli Prime Minister Ben­jamin Netanyahu, according to the French foreign ministry.Israel says administrative detention is intended to allow authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing attacks or security offences in the meantime.

But the system has been criti­cised by the Palestinians, rights groups and members of the inter­national community who say Israel abuses the measure. Hamouri was born in east Jerusalem to a French mother and a Palestinian father.

Palestinian prisoner support NGO Addameer, which employed him as a field researcher, said he was first placed under admin­istrative detention in 2001, aged 16. He was interned without trial for another five-month stretch in 2004, it said, then arrested again in 2005. He was released in 2011 as part of a swap of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, a soldier held captive in Gaza for more than five years. Addameer says over 5,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails.

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