Khalida Jarrar Towards Freedom After Seven Months Behind Israel’s Bars

Thursday 4 March 202103:55 pm

Following many lengthy months of detention, an Israeli court issued on March 1st a two-year prison sentence along with a fine against Khalida Jarrar – a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – for being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the occupation classifies as a “terrorist” organization.

Jarrar, 58, was arrested on October 31st, 2019, in connection with the Abween operation carried out by one of the military groups loyal to the Popular Front (PFLP), that killed an Israeli teenager from one of the settlements built in the occupied West Bank.

Who is Khalida Jarrar?

Jarrar, who holds a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights, is one of the most prominent Palestinian social and political leaders, and is famous for her fiery speeches against Israel.

Prior to her election as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Jarrar served as Director of Palestine’s Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association from 1994 to 2006. Since then, she has been appointed Deputy Chairman of the rights organization’s Board of Directors in parallel with her heading the Prisoners Commission dossier in the Palestinian Legislative Council. She was also a member of the Palestinian National Committee to follow up on Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court. She was arrested and put under administrative detention for many months between 2015 and 2017.

Israel has prevented the Palestinian activist – who had mostly focused on human rights issues and improving the status of women – from leaving the West Bank since 1998. She only left once for Jordan in order to receive medical treatment in 2010, but only following a great deal of “diplomatic pressure” and “long legal procedures”.

Khalida is famous for her fiery speeches against occupation... An Israeli court sentenced a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Khalida Jarrar to two years in prison, along with a fine of $ 1,200 US dollars.

In contrast to her recurrent administrative detention, a decision was issued to deport Jarrar to Jericho in August 2014. However, the period for deportation was shortened just a month after its issuance, following her sit-in within the headquarters of the Palestinian Legislative Council in rejection of the decision.

Jarrar is married to the Palestinian businessman Ghassan Jarrar, who has also been repeatedly subjected to administrative detention, as well as investigations and deportation by the occupation. She has two daughters – Yafa, 28, and Suha, 24 – both of whom are completing their higher studies in Canada, where they are active in the International Boycott Campaign Against Israel (BDS) – or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Violating International Law

Jarrar’s arrest in 2019 came eight months following her release after an administrative detention that lasted for 20 months. At that time, occupation soldiers stormed her home in al-Bireh in the early hours of the morning. She was transferred to the Ofer detention camp, where she was searched and interrogated about her membership and role in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

During the investigation, Jarrar was transferred between several Israeli interrogation and detention centers, including HaSharon Prison and the al-Maskobiya Center, where she was subjected to psychological torture along with the sounds and echoes of people screaming. She ended up in Damon Prison, where she will be completing her two-year-long detention period.

The occupation authorities had announced the indictment of Jarrar in November 2019, under the accusation of her taking up a position in the PFLP, an organization prohibited under Israeli military orders.

This recent Israeli ruling stipulates a two-year prison sentence and requires her to pay a fine of $1,200 US dollars. The punishment, alongside her prison transfer, is a grave violation of international law, which prohibits punishment for the same act twice.

The verdict represents a grave and blatant violation of international law which prohibits punishment for the same offence twice – in 2015, Jarrar was also imprisoned 15 months for her role in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In 2015, Jarrar was penalized for the first time due to her affiliation with the Palestinian organization, spending 15 months confined in the occupation’s prisons until she left in June 2016. She was administratively detained a second time in 2017 for a period of 20 months, in connection with the same role. Because the period of her detention lasted for a long time, only seven months from her sentence remain this time before she regains her freedom – that is, unless the occupation extends her administrative detention using one of its never-ending excuses.

The occupation justified her re-arrest on grounds of the same accusation by claiming that Jarrar had intensified her activities in the PFLP since her release from prison. However, the Addameer association believes that what the occupation is doing with Jarrar cannot be justified except by the fact that “the (Israeli) military prosecution is working on exhausting its full legal influence and power to keep representative Khalida Jarrar in detention for as long as possible.” 

Systematic Policy

For its part, the Palestinian Al-Dameer Foundation considered the ruling a new indication of “the systematic policy by occupation authorities to target Palestinian political leaders in order to prevent any political action against the occupation, as well as use the military judiciary to impose absolute control and deprive the Palestinian people of their rights.”

The institution seized the opportunity to affirm the “illegitimacy of the military courts and their unrelenting violation of international law,” and to demand of “the international community to assume responsibility in ending the occupation and releasing all Palestinian political prisoners.”

The ruling against Jarrar precedes the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections. The occupation had intensified its targeting of Palestinian representatives ahead of the 2006 elections, arresting at least 60 of the officials. Since then, most of these Palestinian representatives have been re-arrested under various pretexts, while 11 of them – Jarrar included – remain in detention to this day.

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