Jarrar's arrest under growing international scrutiny
On 15 April, an Israeli military court convened a closed hearing on the case of Palestinian parliamentarian and activist, Khalida Jarrar, who was arrested on 2 April and given six months in administrative detention, with no recourse to justice, charge or trial.
One hour prior to the scheduled administrative detention confirmation hearing, the military prosecution presented an indictment containing a list of twelve potential charges against Jarrar. Israeli military court scheduled a hearing on 29 April on whether Jarrar would remain imprisoned until
|Khalida is a prisoner of conscience.
- Ghassan Jarrar
the end of her trial on the presented charges. If the prosecution’s charges fail, the hearing will be followed by a hearing to confirm the administrative detention order scheduled for 6 May. Jarrar is the only Palestinian woman held under administrative detention and is one of 13 Palestinian parliamentarians imprisoned by Israel.
“We don’t know whether Israel’s detention of the Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar has anything to do with her passionate advocacy for prisoners’ rights. It could be her membership on a government-appointed committee mandated to follow up Palestine’s recent accession to the International Criminal Court. Israel is not saying. But one thing is quite clear: her case is rife with due process violations”, Bill Van Esveld wrote in a Human Rights Watch Dispatch on Jarrar’s arrest.
Despite the prosecution’s attempt to indict Jarrar, the military judge retained the administrative detention order to eliminate the possibility of releasing her on bail. Jarrar’s defence team expressed shock as the prosecution had previously stated that they do not intend to submit a list of charges due to the lack of supporting evidence.
According to an Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association press release, all charges against Jarrar “revolve around her role as a PLC member and political leader”, and her active participation in advocating for Palestinian political detainees.
“The charges include political activities and participations that any elected member of any parliament would naturally take part in. This indictment attempt is seen as an attack on Palestinian leaderships and Palestinian democracy”, added Sahar Francis, one of Jarrar’s defence lawyers and director of Addameer.
Jarrar’s lawyers also stated that it is still too early to predict how far the Israeli military prosecution intends to push Jarrar’s case. However, the one thing that is increasingly evident is that Jarrar’s arrest is groundless and an example of Israel’s continuous deployment of unwarranted legal actions designed to punish Palestinians who speak against Israel’s occupation. “She is being imprisoned for taking part in activities that define the concept of freedom of speech”, her daughter, Yafa Jarrar, told al-Araby al-Jadeed.
The decision to indict Jarrar could be linked to a growing international awareness of Israel’s illegal use of administrative detention. With Jarrar being a well-known social justice advocate and a Palestinian representative on the Council of Europe, the decision to hold her under administrative detention has prompted worldwide international outrage. Her husband, Ghassan Jarrar, stated that “her indictment is a reflection of the occupier’s weak position. When they failed to collect sufficient evidence to convict her, they decided on administrative detention. When they were internationally condemned and shamed, their self-defence tool was to fabricate unjustified charges against her. Khalida is a prisoner of conscience.”
On 17 April 17, the National Assembly of the Republic of Portugal passed the first national parliamentary resolution calling for Jarrar’s release. Earlier this month, the European Union High Representative, Federica Mogherina, received a letter from 58 Members of the European Parliament, demanding immediate action to release Jarrar. On 8 April, Amnesty International issued an action alert urging supporters to take action against Jarrar’s unlawful detention. In addition, representatives from the European Union, the Knesset Joint List, Amnesty International, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands were present at Jarrar’s last military court hearing.
As the campaign to escalate the international pressure to release Jarrar continues to grow, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and the Free Khalida Jarrar Campaign provide regular updates on Jarrar’s case and the widespread action taking place around the world.
“The growing international support is critical to my mother’s case,” said Yafa Jarrar. “We need to keep this campaign sustainable because one of Israel’s tactics is to let issues die.”