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13 PLC members held by Israel after Khalida Jarrar detained in overnight raids

July 2, 2017 10:49 A.M. (Updated: July 2, 2017 11:04 P.M.)
PFLP deputy at the Palestinian parliament Khalida Jarrar
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar during predawn military raids carried out across the occupied West Bank on Sunday -- just over a year after she was released from Israeli prison -- bringing the number of Palestinian lawmakers imprisoned by Israel to 13.

At least 11 other Palestinians were detained in the raids, included the chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees.

Israeli forces detained Jarrar, a deputy at the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), after raiding her home in Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.

She was released from Israeli prison on June 3, 2016 on a suspended sentence of 12 months within a five-year period.

Following her detention 14 months prior, she was initially sentenced to six months of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charge -- though international pressure forced Israeli authorities to bring charges against her, all 12 of which focused on her political activism.

Jarrar was charged with security-related offenses related to her membership and activities with the PFLP -- a Palestinian political party Israel considers a “terrorist” organization, along with the majority of other Palestinian political factions -- and accused of inciting violence.

At the time, Jarrar accused the Israeli military prosecution of working to keep her in jail as long as possible, adding that she “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, stating that all charges pressed against her were "ridiculous" and related to completely legal activities, including social and political work as a member of parliament.

A statement released by the Israeli army Sunday morning claimed that Jarrar was detained for activities within PFLP and that her detention was not related to her post as member of the PLC.

Jarrar is also the head of the Prisoners' Commission in the PLC, and vice-chairperson of the board of directors of Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer.

Addameer said in a statement Sunday morning that "the arrest of Khalida Jarrar constitutes an attack against Palestinian political leaders and Palestinian civil society as a whole. It also constitutes one arrest in the context of continuous arrest campaigns against Palestinians."

Following her redetention, the number of PLC members held by Israeli forces soared to 13. Most recently, Hamas-affiliated parliamentarian member Muhammad Maher Badr was detained on June 28.

Spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies Riyad al-Ashqar denounced Jarrar’s detention and Israel's targeting of Palestinian parliamentarians in a statement, highlighting that nine of the 13 imprisoned PLC members are being held without charge under administrative detention.

Al-Ashqar noted that Israeli intelligence recently transferred 51-year-old PLC deputy Muhammad al-Tal out of administrative detention in preparation to hold a court session and bring charges against him. Since his detention, al-Tal’s health has seriously deteriorated and he was previously taken to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment.

Al-Ashqar condemned Israel's detention of Palestinian parliamentarians as “a completely politicized policy, which violates the most basic human rights and international laws.” He demanded that parliamentarians of the world live up to their responsibilities and put pressure on the Israeli government to stop violating international laws by detaining Palestinian political figures.

During the overnight raid into Ramallah when Jarrar was detained, Israeli forces also detained former prison Ihab Masoud, local sources told Ma'an. Masoud has previously spend 16 year in Israeli prisons, and was most recently released five months ago.

Israeli forces also raided the town of Beituniya southwest of Ramallah city and detained activist Khitam al-Saafin, the chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, from her home.

The Israeli army’s statement acknowledged al-Saafin’s detention and said it was related to her leading role in the PFLP.

The statement also said that an additional Palestinian was detained in Beituniya, and one was detained in the city of al-Bireh that neighbors Ramallah city.

The Israeli army said that one Palestinian was also detained the town of Rafaat in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, in al-Arrub refugee camp in the southern Hebron district, local sources said that four Palestinians were detained, identified as Samed Jibrin al-Jawabra, Muhammad Yaqoub al-Qasas, Issa Nidal Abu Ali, and Murad Jasir al-Sharif.

The Israeli army’s statement only acknowledged three detentions in al-Arrub, and added that two Palestinians were also detained in the town of Husan in the southern Bethlehem district.

Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a weekly average of 95 search and detention raids carried out over the course 2016, according to UN documentation.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there were 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of May, including 56 women.
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