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MP Jarrar: 'My detention has been political since the beginning'

Dec. 14, 2015 4:39 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 15, 2015 12:40 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar on Monday said -- through her lawyer -- that her imprisonment by Israel is a political move by the Israeli judicial system, which seeks to silence anyone who exposes Israeli crimes.

During a meeting with Hanan al-Khatib, Jarrar's lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners and Former Prisoners' Affairs Committee, Jarrar said that her defense had presented an immunity appeal to the court in accordance with international law's immunity allowance for elected officials, but the appeal was refused.

Jarrar accused the Israeli military prosecution of working to keep her in jail as long as possible.

The lawmaker added that “I did not expect anything from military courts. They are a joke, it's like a big theater, I do not trust them and my detention has been political since the beginning.”

Jarrar also said that she refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court, adding that all charges pressed against her are "ridiculous" and related to completely legal activities, including social and political work as a member of parliament.

'Very difficult conditions'

Jarrar said she and other prisoners were being kept in inhumane conditions.

On her court date last week, where Jarrar was sentenced to 15 months in jail, she said Israeli authorities picked up prisoners from al-Ramla jail where she was being held at 2 a.m. and were kept inside a bus, where it was very cold, until 7 a.m.

Once moved inside the Ofer court building, Jarrar said she and others awaiting trial were kept in a concrete room with no heating.

"It was freezing like a refrigerator where we were kept, under very difficult conditions," Jarrar said. "The seats were concrete and toilet was overflowing, flooding the room.”

After Jarrar was sentenced, she was moved to Damon jail in Haifa along with criminal Israeli offenders.

Jarrar said criminal offenders verbally assaulted the Palestinian political prisoners on the bus, calling them terrorists and various other insults.

Because of the inhumane conditions prisoners suffer through while being transferred from jails to court sessions, Jarrar said several prisoners had waved their right to appear in court.

Jarrar added that throughout the entire period, herself and others were handcuffed and their ankles were shackled, even during visits with family or legal representation.

She identified 13 other women who were transferred to Damon jail with her as Amal Taqatqa, Rawan Abu Matar, Shurouq Dwayyat, Darin Tatur, Nisreen Hasan, Shireen Issawi, Iman Kanju, Tamara Abu Sbeih, Sanaa al-Hafi, Sabrin Abu Sharar, Ihsan Dababseh, Maysoun Moussa and Najwan Odeh.

On Dec. 6, an Israeli military court sentenced Jarrar to 15 months in jail. The lawmaker was also fined 10,000 shekels ($2,582) and given a suspended sentence of 12 months within a five year period.

Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer said that Jarrar was sentenced on the charges of "membership of an illegal organization" and "incitement."

Jarrar was detained on April 2 from her home in Ramallah and initially sentenced to six months of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charge -- although international pressure later forced Israeli authorities to bring charges against her. The 12 charges eventually brought against her focused on her political activism.

Two witnesses giving testimony at Jarrar's first witness hearing in August told the court that their confessions were obtained through "torture and ill treatment" by Israeli forces.

Her case has brought outcry across both Palestine and Israel, with Palestinian and Israeli rights groups calling for her release.

Addameer had earlier described her arrest as "vengeful, arbitrary and political, with an aim to punish her for her political opinions and activism for Palestinian human rights," while Human Rights Watch has said that "her case is rife with due process violations."
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