Israeli court extends leftist Palestinian lawmaker Jarrar’s detention, threatening indefinite term with ‘secret evidence’

An Israeli military court on Monday extended the detention of Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar for at least another 48 hours, threatening the politician with administrative detention, a policy that allows Palestinian prisoners to be held without charge or trial for indefinitely renewable six-month periods, according to documentation from the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

“At the hearing, which did not exceed 30 minutes, the Israeli ‘court’ decided that Israel’s public prosecution did not submit evidence sufficient enough to indict her,” Khalida’s daughter Suha Jarrar said in a statement following the hearing, which she attended. “The so called ‘judge’ then decided to allow prosecution 48 hours to submit an administrative detention order based on secret evidence.”

When Palestinians are held under “secret evidence,” even the prisoner is not informed of charges being investigated against them.

Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was detained on July 2 from her family home in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah during pre-dawn Israeli military raids. On the same morning, Khitam Saafin, the president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, was also detained, as well as Ihab Massoud, who was released from Israeli detention in February after having served 16 years in Israeli prison.

On Sunday Saafin was ordered to three months in administrative detention under “secret evidence,” joining nearly 500 other Palestinians jailed under the policy without charge or trial.

Jarrar, Saafin and Massoud are all well-known activists and leaders within the Palestinian community associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist Palestinian political movement classified as a terrorist organization by both the United States and Israel, despite its membership within the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Haaretz that “Jarrar was arrested following her involvement in promoting terrorist activity through the PFLP, and without any connection to her being a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.”

Hassan Brijiya, a spokesperson for the PFLP, told Mondoweiss that he believed Israel’s statement to be false. Khalida’s work within the PLC as an elected member of the legislature is as a representative for the PFLP party, he explained, pointing out that the two are explicitly linked.

“We call for her immediate release, arresting legislative members is not accepted and any kind of statement that says Jarrar was not arrested for her work in the PLC is not true,” he said.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanin Ashrawi, condemned the “political arrests,” which she said provided “further proof that the judicial system in Israel has no relation to justice.”

“We protest the arrest of Palestinian lawmakers and women activists, as well as the ongoing detention of Palestinian political and civil society leaders,” she said.

There are currently 13 Palestinian legislators being held in Israeli jails. In 2006, Israeli forces had imprisoned 25 percent of the Palestinian Legislative Council as part of its campaign to free an Israeli soldier captured on the Gaza border.

In addition to being a PLC member, Jarrar is also a vice-chairperson of the board of directors of Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

Following Monday’s hearing, Jarrar’s daughter said she waited for 7 hours before her mother was brought before the court.

“The exhausting and degrading trip from Hasharon prison, the long hours at Offer’s despicable detention cells, and the shackles around her ankles did not keep her from smiling, letting us know that nothing will break her,” Suha Jarrar’s statement read. “Despite the apparent exhaustion, she looked more beautiful than ever.”

Monday’s court hearing was the first time Suha got to see her mother since the night before Khalida’s arrest.

Suha told Mondoweiss that her mother was detained from their family home around 4 a.m. on July 2, when Israeli forces broke into the house and isolated herself, Khalida and Suha’s father, Ghassan, in different rooms of the house.

Female soldiers entered Suha’s room during the raid, pointing guns at her and forcing her out of bed without being allowed to change into proper clothing. When Suha continued to ask the soldiers to allow her to see her mother, the female soldiers called male soldiers into the bedroom, who then hit her, tied her hands behind her back with plastic ties and made her sit on her knees in the middle of her bed for more than half an hour with guns pointed at her, still without being allowed to put on proper clothing, she said.

By the time Suha and her father were released from Israeli custody, they rushed to the balcony to see Khalida, but she had already been put into a military vehicle.

Khalida Jarrar has been detained by Israeli forces a number of times throughout her political career and even before during activism in her youth.

In 2015 Jarrar was convicted of incitement and breaking travel restrictions. Israeli authorities had ordered Jarrar to move from Ramallah to Jericho, where they expected her to ask for permission any time she wanted to leave the city. She refused to be forcibly transferred to Jericho, and that is where the travel restriction charges originated from. Jarrar was released in 2016 after a 15 month prison term.

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