Israel Releases Palestinian Lawmaker Held for Nearly Two Years Without Trial

Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar was released Thursday after being held by Israel for 20 months in administrative detention. Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was arrested for her activity in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and jailed without charges.

Jarrar is a well-known figure on the Palestinian political scene and was active for many years as an advocate on behalf of prisoners’ rights and with human rights organizations. Israel has barred her from leaving the West Bank since 1998.

Mahmoud Hassan, Jarrar’s lawyer said that he and Jarrar’s family had been told in advance that the administrative detention, issued by the OC Central Command, will not be renewed unless significant new information is received. However, she was released hours earlier than expected, at 4 A.M., and brought to a different location than expected. Her family believes this was an attempt to prevent a festive reception for her.

After her release, Jarrar said she is leaving detention with mixed feelings since she has to leave behind her many friends who are still locked up. She added that she would continue to act for the release of all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

This was not the first time Jarrar had been placed in administrative detention without charges or trial. Jarrar was first arrested at her home in El Bireh, near Ramallah,  on April 2, 2015. Israeli security officials claimed at the time she was arrested for violating an order confining her to the Jericho area of the West Bank, but did not mention other offenses.

Some 13 months after she was released from that term, she was again put under administrative detention, which kept getting extended, for 20 consecutive months, starting in mid-2017: two stints of six months each, and two of four months each.

As a political activisit, Jarrar had focused on prisoners’ rights, social legislation and improvement in the status of women. She was first elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 on a list headed by Ahmad Sa’adat, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Sa’adat was accused by Israel of organizing the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Ze’evi, and later apprehended by Israeli forces and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

According to ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Israel currently holds 495 Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention.