Israel expelled French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri on Sunday morning, the culmination of a lengthy judicial saga in which he was accused of security offences and held without charge since March.
Hamouri, 37, had been held under a controversial practice known as administrative detention, which allows suspects to be detained for renewable periods of up to six months.
Hamouri “was deported this morning to France following Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked´s decision to withdraw his residency status”, the ministry said in a statement.
His family and supporters were expecting the deportation to take place on a Tel Aviv-Paris flight by Israeli airline El Al.
An Israeli military court sentenced Hamouri, who holds French citizenship, to administrative detention in March. It accused him of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and said he “endangers security in the region”.
Israel, the United States and the European Union consider the PFLP a “terrorist group”. It has been implicated in several fatal attacks on Israelis.
Hamouri denies links to the PFLP.
He has been arrested and jailed by Israeli authorities on several occasions, including in 2005.
Following that arrest he was tried and convicted by an Israeli court on charges of plotting to assassinate Ovadia Yosef, a prominent rabbi and spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas political party.
Hamouri was released in December 2011 as part of a prisoner swap with Gaza.
He has always maintained his innocence.
Born in Jerusalem, Hamouri does not have Israeli nationality, but he held a residency permit that Israeli authorities revoked.
Last month, he was informed he would be deported, but the expulsion was delayed as his lawyers contested the case.
There had been increasing indications since Friday evening that Hamouri would be expelled. Arab-Israeli lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman on Saturday wrote to Defence Minister Benny Gantz in an appeal to prevent Hamouri´s removal.
‘A great achievement’
Earlier this month, Israeli authorities confirmed the revocation of his residency, paving the way for Hamouri´s imminent expulsion despite a new hearing scheduled for January 1.
“It is a great achievement to have been able to cause, just before the end of my term, his expulsion,” Interior Minister Shaked said on Sunday.
Benjamin Netanyahu, winner of the November 1 legislative elections, is expected to form a new Israeli government with allies from ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties.
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 Palestinians, human rights groups and members of the international community have criticised the system. They say Israel abuses the measure.