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Israel sentences Palestinian leader Khalida Jarrar to six months without charge or trial

July 12, 2017 8:37 P.M. (Updated: July 13, 2017 4:35 P.M.)
PFLP deputy at the Palestinian parliament Khalida Jarrar
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli military court sentenced Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar to six months of administrative detention -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- on Wednesday, after the feminist and human rights activist was detained from her home at the start of the month during an Israeli overnight raid.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, a confirmation hearing will be held on July 17 at Israel’s Ofer military court in the central occupied West Bank to affirm the administrative detention sentence.

Israeli forces detained Jarrar, a long-serving PLC member from the leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), on July 2 after raiding her home in Ramallah in the central West Bank, 13 months after Jarrar was released from Israeli prison on June 3, 2016 after serving more than a year, one month of which was under administrative detention.

Following her prior detention in 2015, she was initially sentenced to six months of administrative detention, 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 prison 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 following her most recent detention 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 following the detention 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."

On the same night Israeli forces detained Jarrar, Khitam al-Saafin, the chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committee, was also detained in the village of Beituniya in the central occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities sentenced al-Saafin to three months of administrative detention. The Israeli army had said at the time of her detention that al-Saafin was also being detained due to her leading role in the PFLP.

“We protest the arrest of Palestinian lawmakers and women activists, as well as the ongoing detention of Palestinian political and civil society leaders,” Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said following Jarrar and al-Saafin’s detention, adding that “clearly, this political arrest is further proof that the judicial system in Israel has no relation to justice.”

According to Addameer, there were 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of May, including 56 women, and 490 held in administrative detention.

Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians. The widely condemned Israeli policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
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