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Israeli army arrests Palestinian feminist lawmaker, months after her release

Khalida Jarrar was last released from Israeli custody in February, where she was held for 20 months without charge or trial.

By Jaclynn Ashly

Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) upon her release from an Israeli prison, at a checkpoint near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, June 3, 2016. (Haytham Shtayeh/Flash90)

Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) upon her release from an Israeli prison, at a checkpoint near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, June 3, 2016. (Haytham Shtayeh/Flash90)

Dozens of Israeli soldiers arrested Khalida Jarrar, a prominent Palestinian left-wing lawmaker and activist, after raiding her home in central Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank overnight on Thursday.

Suha Ghassan, Jarrar’s 29-year-old daughter, was the only other person at home with her mother during the raid. She said she woke up to the sounds of walkie-talkies used by soldiers outside. Jarrar’s husband, Ghassan, was in Jordan at the time — the first time Israel had allowed him to travel abroad in 60 years.

According to Suha, the soldiers began slamming their front door with the butt of their guns. “We told them not to break the door and that we would open it,” she recounted. “There were so many soldiers; I’m not sure how many because I lost count, but there were at least 20-30 soldiers just inside the house.”

A military commander sat down in the family’s living room and asked them “provocative” questions, said Suha. The commander asked Jarrar if she had prepared her bag yet, insinuating that Jarrar should have known Israeli authorities would be after her.

The soldiers then separated Suha from her mother, who was brought into another room to change her clothes. After a prolonged period of demanding to see her mother, Suha was allowed to say goodbye and give her mother a hug before Jarrar was escorted outside and led into an Israeli army jeep.

It’s not an uncommon scene for the former member of the dormant Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Jarrar has been arrested before, in 2015 and 2017. She was last released from Israel’s Damon prison in February, after nearly two years under administrative detention — the controversial Israeli policy of imprisonment without charge or trial, used almost exclusively against Palestinians. This form of detention is based on undisclosed evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing, and can be renewed indefinitely for three-to-six month intervals.

Jarrar is one of Palestine’s most distinguished and popular politicians. She has served as a fierce women’s rights activist for years, both inside and outside Israel’s prison walls, which included successfully advocating for women prisoners to take secondary school matriculation exams while serving their sentences in Israeli prisons. When she was last incarcerated, she headed courses on international law and human rights for the women prisoners.

Jarrar has also spent years documenting Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian children and injured prisoners as the head of the PLC’s prisoners committee, and during her former role as the director of Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization.

Palestinian legislator Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hugging her daughter upon her release from an Israeli prison, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, February 28, 2019. (STR/Flash90)

Palestinian legislator Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hugging her daughter upon her release from an Israeli prison, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, February 28, 2019. (STR/Flash90)

According to Addameer, 5,000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons as of September. Of those, 425 are under administrative detention and seven are PLC members.

“Although according to international law and Israeli courts no one can be detained for their political opinions, in practice Palestinian political leaders are routinely arrested and detained as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress Palestinian political processes – and, as a result, Palestinian political sovereignty and self-determination,” the group stated.

Jarrar was arrested amid a wave of Israeli arrests of Palestinians suspected of affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), of which Jarrar is a member and which Israel considers to be a terrorist organization — along with most Palestinian political parties.

Israel has alleged that a cell of PFLP members were behind an improvised explosive device detonating near Dolev, an Israeli settlement located northeast of Ramallah, which killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl. Israel often rounds up members of specific political parties or social groups during heightened army crackdowns in the West Bank.

Asked about the reason for Jarrar’s arrest, an Israeli military spokesperson said it was “in suspicion of being involved in activities which jeopardize the security in the area.”

Yafa, Jarrar’s other daughter, wrote on her Facebook page on Thursday that Jarrar would be moved from Israel’s Ofer detention center near Ramallah to Hasharon prison outside the occupied territory — a transfer that is considered illegal under international law.

According to Yafa, an Israeli military court will decide whether to extend her detention on Sunday or place her once again under administrative detention.



Suha said that the “basis for this continuous harassment is merely because [Jarrar] speaks loudly against the occupation and its arbitrary practices against the Palestinian people.” She noted that it is “convenient” for Israel to place Jarrar under administrative detention.

“They [Israel] doesn’t want to come off as a country that arrests people for publicly speaking or because they are exercising their right of freedom of expression,” said Suha, adding that administrative detention amounts to “psychological warfare” against the Palestinian population and individuals seen as influential in Palestinian society.

“The goal is to break the spirits of these individuals and their families,” she continued. “It’s renewable indefinitely so there’s no sense of certainty for the prisoner or their family. You don’t know if you will be released in years or months.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, condemned Jarrar’s arrest, including that of several other prominent activists, in a statement released on Thursday. “We call on the international community to assume its responsibilities to put an end to Israel’s illegal policy of mass arbitrary detention of Palestinian citizens,” she wrote.

Ashrawi also demanded that the “unequivocal international condemnation” of Israel’s use of administrative detention, which “has allowed the occupation authorities to detain 54,000 Palestinian men, women and children since the beginning of the 1967 occupation.”

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    1. Firentis

      Jarrar is a member of the PFLP. The United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the European Union have designated the PFLP as a terrorist organization. So, a terrorist got arrested. Excellent! Hopefully they throw away the key.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Yeah, the terror of women’s rights activism, international law and human rights for the women prisoners and children. It’s such a bummer.

        This is obvious political persecution, just as with the Birzeit students and with Hiba al-Labadi, but interesting larger political question is why is it that the Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, Otzma Yehudit and the Yesha Council are not designated terrorist organizations? (Because the occupation is terror.) I guess it’s for the same reason the Romans and the British were not designated terrorists when they occupied Palestine–while the Jews resisting them then were designated terrorists by the Romans and the British and their cozy allies.

        Picture the Latin decrees: “This Jew was detained by Roman Imperial forces on August 20th at a crossing while traveling…his arrest was related to meetings he had with Jewish terror-organization (Zealot) affiliates during a previous visit, where he was visiting his sister….” And we know what decrees the British issued against folks like Begin and Shamir. And their “affiliates.” Yes sir “round up the affiliates, we got an occupied population to suppress.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordine

          Yescha and the political parties you quote are respectable and have representatives abroad as opposed to the terrorists (considered almost everywhere as such ..) of the PFLP.

          Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Firentis: Imprisonment without charge or trial: Jewish justice at its best.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      A note on how the U.S. handles “terrorists”: Most “terrorism” cases are actually tried in civilian courts in a jury trial.



      “For years, the Justice Department has worked to ensure that terrorism suspects wind up in federal court and not in military commissions, and certainly not in indefinite detention without facing charge or trial…” – that last sentence bears repeating: not in indefinite detention without facing charge or trial.

      Reply to Comment
    3. marilyn katz

      Under what definition of democracy could Israel be counted as one?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Carmen

      The IOF are just a bunch of p@ssies. Afraid, like so many in this patriarchy, of strong women like Ms. Jarrar won’t bow to them or fear them. Strong women who are admired and loved by their people. If the true measure of a man was how he treats strong women, this is a huge fail, among so many others. #LOSERS

      Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        Please leave out your silly, American uber-feminist nonsense at home.
        Nobody believes in this rubbish.
        That is especially true for the polygamous, Gay-murdering, honor killing retards who are squatting in Judea & Samria.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Itshak Gordine

      She is a member of an organization recognized by several countries as a terrorist. Around the world we are fighting against terrorism. When Isreael does it, it annoys the leftists.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        It’s political persecution. Around the world Slobodan Milosevich said he was “fighting terrorists.” Around the world the Apartheid South Africans said they were fighting “terrorists.” Around the world the (Israeli-arms-supplied) generals of Myanmar say they are “fighting terrorism.” Around the world the Chinese who viciously persecute the Tibetan and Uighur minorities say they are “fighting terrorism.” You should be careful with pronouns like “we,” as in “we are fighting against terrorism.” You want there to be a pure, noble “we” in which you dissolve and fudge the particulars of Israel’s tactics, but there is no such “we.” Thus endeth another chapter in your inveterate (Orwellian) misuse of language.

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordine

          We must protect our civilians from danger, whether you like it or not. The PFLP is a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians. We know that leaves you indifferent ..

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It has nothing to do with security. You can ritualistically chant “terrorist” a hundred times and it won’t change that fact. It has to do with Rina Shnerb’s death only as a collective revenge reaction. Those Israelis who kill Palestinians–carelessly, needlessly, casually–never get remotely similar punishment. Ever. See:

            15-year-old Palestinian Was Shot to Death. Israeli Soldier Who Fired at Him Got One Month of Community Service
            The soldier admitted that he had fired his weapon toward Othman Rami Halas, without the approval of his commanders. IDF sources: No proof that soldier’s action caused death

            It’s arbitrary, capricious arrest and detention without charge by the Israeli overlord. It’s collective vengeance. Jarrar is being punished for free speech against the occupation. And for refusing to bow down. And for being an effective leader, which is a grave, unpardonable sin in Israeli eyes.

            It’s political persecution. It makes no one safer, just the opposite. The Germans who occupied Paris insisted too that it was all about keeping the occupier safe. Were the power imbalance different Palestinians would round up Habayit Hayahudi and Otzma members every time the Israeli army carelessly, needlessly killed Palestinian civilians. I bet you’d like that, huh?

            Israeli deaths do not leave me indifferent. Fakery about “security” leaves me cold. Dishonesty and injustice leaves me cold. Indifference to Israeli lives sacrificed to the Settler Moloch leave me cold.

            I view you as deeply misguided at best. If you settlers truly cared about Israeli lives you would not keep putting soldiers and civilians at risk for your ruthlessly selfish acquisitive aims. Your cult project. So turn it around. It’s a given that you are utterly indifferent, at best, to Palestinian deaths. (Your far right fellow traveler from Afula takes open pleasure in their deaths—see the post below—just one example. That doesn’t bother you one whit.) That’s a given. But I view you as not caring about israeli lives either if it means giving up your fanatic, totalizing, narcissistic-messianic hypernationalism.

            Reply to Comment
          • Itshak Gordine

            What do you know? You are not in Israel. Have you had access to justice records or are you relying on the statements of Haaretz or some leftists?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Halevy, no one has access to “justice records” because it is a police state, a state in which arrest is capricious, defendants are not even defendants, are given no due process, are not allowed lawyers to defend themselves, where there is no public airing of evidence, where “military security” and such is used as an excuse to keep everything secret. Get real.

            Reply to Comment
          • Itshak Gordine

            So it’s usually blah blah since you do not know anything about the file. You have only one priority: to slander the State of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I hate to ruin your fairy tale but Stasi-style secret files with no public airing of evidence is prima facie evidence that a state actually has no case and knows it so it has to substitute bullshit like this: “in suspicion of being involved in activities which jeopardize the security in the area.” You and I both know that if they actually had anything at all on Jarrar they would announce it with trumpets blaring and sirens screaming on every TV channel, Netanyahu facebook page and tweet stream and the right wing TV shouters would be jabbering and foaming at the mouth about it.

            Exposing to light the organized crime of the state-sponsored settlement enterprise is not “slander.” As Justice Brandeis famously wrote:
            “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
            And see the fuller statement of that ethic, by James Bryce, to which Brandeis was referring:

            All of which is light years away conceptually from anything you’ve ever been taught to think.

            Reply to Comment
          • Rivka Koen

            > “We must protect our civilians from danger”

            First of all, you don’t have any civillians. Second of all, this is a thought-terminating cliché and is very close to what white supremacists say in America when justifying their terrorist campaigns. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14 words

            Reply to Comment
    6. Lewis from Afula

      I hope all such PFLP terrorists are “taken out”.
      Actually, the entire PFLP leadership should be eliminated.
      We should start with this drekess first.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Magdalena Collins

      Decent people of the world are with you. We are horrified with Israeli goverment.

      Reply to Comment