Center for the Defence of the Individual - After nine months in detention as an illegal alien: Israel releases Jerusalem Palestinian Journalist Mustafa al-Haruf
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חזרה לעמוד הקודם

After nine months in detention as an illegal alien: Israel releases Jerusalem Palestinian Journalist Mustafa al-Haruf

Press Release

After nine months in detention as an illegal alien, Israel releases Jerusalem Palestinian Journalist Mustafa al-Haruf

Mustafa al-Haruf was released from the Giv’on prison today, October 24, and has been reunited with his wife and infant daughter. Mustafa, who is stateless and lacks legal status anywhere in the world, was held in detention for nine months as an illegal alien, after the Ministry of Interior rejected all his attempts to obtain residency status in Jerusalem – his only home from childhood.

On September 25, after the Ministry of Interior failed in its efforts to deport Mustafa to Jordan, the Tribunal for Review of Custody of Illegal Aliens ruled that he must be released if he is not deported within a month. Under the terms of his release, Mustafa has just 21 days during which to obtain legal status or else he must leave the country; this despite the fact that being stateless means he has nowhere to go. A new request to give him status under the family unification procedure has been submitted, but the chances of it being approved within the tight schedule set by the Tribunal are slim. HaMoked will now apply to extend this period.

Last night, the Ministry of Interior made a last-ditch effort to prevent Mustafa’s release. The Tribunal rejected this request to postpone his release.

“For nine months I’ve been in prison”, said Mustafa. “My baby girl has grown up without me. My wife has had to cope on her own. And why? Just because they refuse to recognize me as a Jerusalemite Palestinian. Jerusalem is the only home I have in the world. I’m so happy to finally be going home to my family, but I know my ordeal is not over yet, because they still refuse to let me live legally in my home.”

“From the time he was a child, Mustafa’s center of life has been solely in Jerusalem,” said Adv. Adi Lustigman who represents Mustafa on behalf of HaMoked. “His parents, brothers and sisters live in Jerusalem. His wife and two-year-old daughter live in Jerusalem. All of them have Israeli status. Israel's failed attempt to deport al-Haruf to Jordan strengthens our claim that Jerusalem is his only home, and Israel must find a humane solution for him and his family.”

“Israel’s High Court of Justice has recognized East Jerusalemites as an indigenous population with a unique status,” says Jessica Montell, Executive Director of HaMoked. “Mustafa is a member of this population. We welcome his release, but Israel must promptly grant him the legal status to which he is entitled so that he can live in Jerusalem with his family without fear of deportation.”


Mustafa was born in Algeria to a Palestinian family from East Jerusalem. The family returned to East Jerusalem in 1999, when Mustafa was 12-years old and he has been living in the city ever since. He is married to a woman from East Jerusalem and is father to a two-year-old child, who, like her mother, has permanent Israeli residency.

For years, Mustafa and his family tried to have his status legalized. The Ministry of Interior imposes many bureaucratic obstacles in all matters relating to the status of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and Mustafa never received the status of permanent resident of Israel to which he is entitled as the son of an East Jerusalemite.

Since 2015, the Ministry of Interior has rejected multiple requests for permits and status on security grounds. In early 2019, Mustafa was arrested and placed in detention “pending deportation” in Giv’on prison, used for holding people slated for deportation. Despite the repeated laconic security claims, Israel has not seen fit to indict Mustafa and opted for the drastic measure of prolonged administrative incarceration “prior to removal”.

Appeals on his behalf, filed by HaMoked via Attorney Adi Lustigman, to the Appeals Tribunal and later the District Court, were rejected, as was the request for another appeal to the Supreme Court.

On 22 July, 2019, an attempt was made to deport Mustafa to Jordan but the Jordanian authorities refused to accept him and he was returned to Giv’on prison.