Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar was arrested by Israeli soldiers in the early-morning hours of April 2 from her Ramallah home, reported her family. Jarrar is a prominent Palestinian leftist, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, a member of the Board of Directors of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and its former executive director.
In today’s early-morning raid, around 30 armed Israeli soldiers entered Jarrar’s home at approximately 1:15 am, confining her husband, Ghassan, to the spare bedroom, interrogating her, searching the home, and confiscating two computers while arresting Jarrar. “My mother always speaks the truth to power. She is a woman and a loved leader. That is why they went after her,” said Yafa Jarrar, one of Khalida’s daughters and a Palestinian activist, early on Thursday. “This occupation is vicious and their track record shows that anyone who speaks out against their aggression is a target.”
A leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Jarrar has been repeatedly targeted for harassment and repression by Israeli forces; in August of last year, the Israeli military court at Ofer issued a “Special Supervision Order,” attempting to forcibly transfer Jarrar to the city of Jericho from her hometown of Ramallah. Rejecting the order, saying that “it is the occupation who must leave our homeland,” Jarrar set up a protest tent outside the PLC office in Ramallah, living and working from the tent, which was visited by numerous Palestinian and international delegations.
Thousands of organizations and individuals from around the world joined the campaign to cancel the expulsion order, including Members of European Parliament Matt Carthy, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Miguel Viegas and Gabriele Zimmer. On September 16, 2014, the order was nullified after it was modified to a 30-day period from its original six-month duration. Such forced transfer orders violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forced transfer of people under occupation from one area of occupied territory to another.
“My mother is an influential leader, feminist and activist. She speaks strongly and loudly against colonization and oppression. Her arrest is a reflection of Israel’s ongoing tactics to attack freedom of speech and silence those who speak freely against occupation and apartheid,” said Suha Jarrar, another of Khalida’s daughters and a Palestinian researcher and social justice activist.
Jarrar is particularly known for her work in defense of Palestinian prisoners: in addition to her long-time work at Addameer, a major Palestinian non-governmental organization that provides direct legal support and representation to Palestinian prisoners as well as advocacy and organizing, she chairs the Prisoners’ Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
She has been forbidden since 1998 to travel outside of Palestine; in 2010, she was finally allowed to travel to Jordan to receive critical medical treatment after extensive media coverage and a public campaign. Jarrar is also a prominent feminist and active in the Palestinian women’s movement.
She was elected to the PLC in 2006 on the Abu Ali Mustafa slate; the head of the slate, Ahmad Sa’adat, the PFLP’s General Secretary, is currently serving a 30-year sentence in Israeli prison. Sa’adat, kidnapped from the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison where he was held under British and U.S. guard in a 2006 armed attack by the Israeli army, was held in isolation for three years and is currently denied family visits. The imprisonment of Sa’adat in the Palestinian Authority prison from which he was abducted is a key example of “security coordination” between the PA and Israel; Jarrar has been a long-term, outspoken opponent of security coordination, demanding an immediate end to the policy.
In addition to Jarrar, Sa’adat is one of 17 other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council imprisoned in Israeli jails, 9 of them held in administrative detention without charge or trial. Just last month, during Israeli Apartheid Week, Zionist organizations in Belgium attempted to pressure the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels) to cancel Israeli Apartheid Week over a Skype presentation by Jarrar, a move defeated by an organized student campaign.
“She’s a threat because she speaks the truth. This is why she was targeted before, and continues to be targeted now,” says Suha Jarrar. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network has re-launched its Khalida Jarrar Solidarity Campaign, with online actions, factsheets and resources on Jarrar, calling for her immediate release. A facebook page in solidarity with Jarrar has been created; hundreds have already responded to the call for action and organizers pledge to expand the campaign until Jarrar is released.