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Israeli military court sentences Palestinian feminist and lawmaker Khalida Jarrar to 15 months in jail

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Khalida Jarrar, a leading Palestinian feminist and lawmaker who defied an Israeli order last year to deport her from her West Bank hometown of al-Bireh to the desert city of Jericho, was sentenced to 15 months in prison by an Israeli military court on Monday.

Jarrar’s legal fight began on April 20, 2014 at when at least 50 Israeli forces surrounded her home and handed her a writ of expulsion. The notice declared she was a security threat to the state of Israel.

“They [Israeli soldiers] came to my house, the soldiers, many soldiers with one police man and they informed me that there is a military order against me that I should go to Jericho and that I have 24 hours to implement that decision. And they asked me to sign that decision, and I refused to sign,” Jarrar told Mondoweiss days after the nighttime incursion.

“I announced that it was not their right to take me and deport me to Jericho. Here is my life, here is my home,” Jarrar said.

When speaking to Mondoweiss Jarrar was camping out in an office in the Palestinian Legislative Council compound in Ramallah where she has worked as a parliament member for the past decade, “I have everything to sleep, to have my shower, to do everything inside.” she said.

At the time the Israeli action raised flags over the issue of jurisdiction in the West Bank. Both cities in the military order, al-Bireh and Jericho, fall inside the boundaries of Area A of the West Bank, a region under full Palestinian security control and includes all of the major West Bank cities. According to the Oslo Accords, the Israeli military has no authority inside Area A, including enforcing the movements of a Palestinian like Jarrar from one section of it to another.

“I’m not here for protection, I’m here to work. It’s a political message also,” Jarrar added explaining her rationale for relocating to her office complex: Jarrar decided if the Israeli military was prepared to violate the Oslo Accords as she saw it and send her to Jericho, she would ensure the act of taking her into custody would be carried out on the premises of a Palestinian government building, in view of Palestinian police. She hoped to symbolically raise attention to the question of the legality of the deportation order.

After sleeping inside of the legislative council for weeks, fed by food prepared and dropped off by relatives—“I eat three meals a day,” laughed Jarrar—the Israeli military dropped its expulsion case. Jarrar viewed it as a victory. She moved back into her family home. Yet the reprieve was short. On April 2, 2015 Israeli forces again returned to Jarrar’s home and detained her without charged.

The following month an Israeli military prosecutor charged Jarrar with 12 security offenses. In court on Monday, Jarrar reached a plea deal with the army prosecutor. She was sentenced to 15 months in prison on two counts, incitement against Israel and membership in an illegal group—the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist and socially liberal political party that was founded in 1967. Her lawyers said she agreed to the sentencing deal after suffering unspecified medical ailments related to the 16-hour commute between HaSharon Prison in Israel and Ofer Military Court in the West Bank. 

Jarrar is renowned amongst secular leftist Palestinians as a champion of womens’ rights, and the rights of Palestinians. According to al-Monitor, 13% of Palestinian legislators are women, although there is a national quota for 20% female representatives. Jarrar is seen a a trailblazer for women in politics.

Prior to entering the legislative council Jarrar headed the Ramallah-based human rights legal group Addameer. Yet she is most known as the unofficial head of the PFLP—the group she was convicted of belonging to. However, Jarrar disputed her membership to Mondoweiss, explaining the PFLP is a banned movement by the Israeli government, as with all Palestinian political parties.

“All of our work is risky, because if we want to give a speech against the occupation, it’s a risk, but this is what we have to do as Palestinians. I don’t expect that any people who are occupied will accept their occupier,” Jarrar said, noting all Palestinians legislators run the risk of arrest under the letter of Israeli military law.

Yet the pre-Oslo law is selectively enforced, as the ban includes the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling party Fatah. Were Israel to arrest all members of illegal groups, the entire Palestinian government would be detained.

“My list is not the Popular Front, in the Parliament,” Jarrar stated, “We have to try to work in other ways, so we held elections with another name, not the Popular Front.”

When Jarrar ran as a legislator in 2006, she was balloted with the Ali Abu Mustafa Martyr Brigades, an organization the PFLP called its “armed wing” on its website and takes its name after a former general-secretary who was killed by Israeli forces in his home in 2001.

During the 1960s and 70s the PFLP engaged in a series of attacks against Israelis, notably airplane hijackings. The group gave up militant acts in consort with other major Palestinian parties in 2005 in peace talks with Israel after carrying out eight suicide attacks during the second Intifada. One year before Jarrar joined the list. While the movement is largely recognized as ending its armed struggle, in recent years a handful of Palestinian attackers have claimed membership, casting doubt the armed-wing disbanded.

Still Jarrar and her supporters—which span form Portugal’s parliament to the UN special Rapporteur on the Rights of Palestinians, to Amnesty International—say she has no connection to the PFLP’s militant history and have called her a political prisoner.

Secretary-General of the PLO Saeb Erekat today decried Jarrar’s incarceration, stating she was tried in one of Israel’s “kangaroo courts,” a reference to the Israeli military trials’ 99.7% conviction rate that has come under scrutiny in recent years after the Israeli head of the court announced secret evidence and speedy hearings impeding on Palestinian defendant’s due process. 

“This is a politically motivated act against a Palestinian official, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the historic Palestinian political movements and an integral part of the PLO,” Erekat said, “MP Jarrar was one of the most active members of the national committee tasked with overseeing Palestine’s ICC [International Criminal Court] efforts.  Israel has sent a clear message opposing our legitimate and peaceful efforts toward achieving freedom and justice.” 

“The information used against Mrs. Jarrar involved information as old as 2009, and that the fact that she was charged years later in 2015 indicates the arrest is a politically motivated one,” said Jarrar’s legal representatives from Addameer (her former employer) in a statement.

At the time Jarrar was handed the deportation order back in 2014, 36 Palestinian parliamentarians were detained in Israeli jails, including the last head of the PFLP, Ahmad Sadaat. Four legislators were also banned from Jerusalem and sent to Ramallah.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. Boomer on December 10, 2015, 10:54 am

    Obama and Congress support the Zionists, which means that all Americans are complicit.

    • Stephen Shenfield on December 11, 2015, 10:30 am

      The interesting thing about this case is how it exposes the absurdity of regarding the PA as an independent state in the making. Just imagine — one state issues an order for a parliamentarian of a neighboring state to relocate from the capital to another city where she will no longer be able to perform her duties and then sentences her to a prison term for not complying. Here, in fact, the PA is not even functioning as an agent of the Israeli state. It is just a puppet show.

  2. ckg on December 10, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Jarrar and her supporters—which span form Portugal’s parliament to the UN special Rapporteur on the Rights of Palestinians, to Amnesty International

    But no supporters in Washington.

    QUESTION: And one more – or maybe two more. Yesterday an Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian legislator woman – who’s really quite been a vocal voice on behalf of women’s rights, against extremism, a very progressive person – Khalida Jarrar for 15 months in prison under some sort of really made-up kind of charges of incitement and so on because she refused to leave her home in Ramallah and so on. Is that something that bothers you or disturbs you, that Israel can go and maybe in the middle of the night take someone and put them in prison for sort of trumped-up charges?

    MR KIRBY: I would refer you to Israeli authorities on this.

    Yeah.

    • ckg on December 11, 2015, 8:57 am

      Slightly off topic but this may interest some: There is a skirmish today on twitter between MJ Rosenberg and AP diplomatic correspondent Matt Lee regarding the late Barry Schweid, who was Lee’s predecessor, and Israel.

  3. Sulphurdunn on December 10, 2015, 2:23 pm

    “Both cities in the military order, al-Bireh and Jericho, fall inside the boundaries of Area A of the West Bank, a region under full Palestinian security control and includes all of the major West Bank cities.”

    Sending armed soldiers to kidnap one of your own citizens on your own soil can be construed as an act of war. But, the Palestinians have no army, so they can’t really fight back militarily. Maybe they’ll have to throw rocks. Oh, wait! They already do that, which makes them an existential threat to the survival of one of the world’s most heavily militarized countries.

  4. oldgeezer on December 10, 2015, 4:40 pm

    Petty harassment of an elected official. If the zionists weren’t well aware that what they were doing were war crimes and crimes against humanity they would not have anything to fear. And regardless if they had a set of bollocks between them they would argue their case in court instead of these juvenile threats.

    • Marnie on December 10, 2015, 5:52 pm

      “Petty harassment of an elected official.”

      Especially a feminist one, but the only requirements for getting locked up is being a Palestinian. What bastards.

  5. JLewisDickerson on December 10, 2015, 7:13 pm

    RE: “Yet the pre-Oslo law is selectively enforced [by Israel] . . .” ~ Deger

    ■ FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . It was [Ariel] Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulation, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders. All of this was intended to induce in the Palestinians a sense of permanent temporariness. . .
    . . . It suits Israel to have a ‘state’ without borders so that it can keep negotiating about borders, and count on the resulting uncertainty to maintain acquiescence. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n05/alastair-crooke/permanent-temporariness

    ■ FROM WIKIPEDIA [Learned helplessness]:

    [EXCERPT] Learned helplessness is behavior typical of an organism (human or animal) that has endured repeated painful or otherwise aversive stimuli which it was unable to escape or avoid. After such experience, the organism often fails to learn escape or avoidance in new situations where such behavior would be effective. In other words, the organism seems to have learned that it is helpless in aversive situations, that it has lost control, and so it gives up trying. Such an organism is said to have acquired learned helplessness.[1][2] Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses may result from such real or perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.[3] . . .

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness

  6. just on December 11, 2015, 7:48 am

    Shame, shame, shame.

  7. annie on December 11, 2015, 9:42 am

    they tortured prisoners for evidence against Jarrar. someone sent me a photo of a letter from UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Tobias Ellwood MP addressed to MP Mark Durkan (sorry i don’t know how to link to it) in answer to durkan’s inquiry about UK consulate general in jerusalem monitoring of jarrar’s case. the letter reads (in part):

    I understand the prosecution’s evidence against Jarrar comes from statements made from former and current Palestinian prisoners during interrogations by the Israel Security Agency (ISA). At the hearing on 25 August, however, the first two witnesses retracted the statements they had made, claiming they had made them under duress…….the two witnesses describe “pressure and ill-treatment during interrogation, including sleep deprivation, being tied in painful stress positions for long hours, being threatened with further torture and with the arrest of family members…..”

    and more. that’s a partial transcription. i can’t copy paste it because it is from a photograph of the 2 page letter. anyway, and so it goes with the israeli anti-justice system. they always can haul in witnesses and torture them to make allegations against her.

    Ellwood expresses the UK is “concerned” and “firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights” but they have done nothing wrt Jarrar as of the letter — dated 17 september 2015.

  8. Ossinev on December 11, 2015, 10:23 am

    These IDF cretins are really starting to lose the plot. They forgot to bring the standard issue knife to chuck on the ground ! Even worse they forgot to riddle her with bullets as she “resisted” !

    BOYCOTT UGLY APARTHEID ISRAEL
    DO NOT BUY ISRAELI GOODS
    DO NOT COMPETE IN SPORTING COMPETITIONS INVOLVING ISRAELIS
    DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN CULTURAL EVENTS INVOLVING ISRAELIS
    DO NO SHARE ACADEMIC PLATFORMS INVOLVING ZIONIST ISRAELIS
    DO NOT SHARE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL PLATFORMS INVOLVING ZIONIST ISRAELIS
    LOBBY YOUR POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES TO CANCEL TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH ISRAEL

    DO WHAT IT TAKES AS WITH SOUTH AFRICA TO ISOLATE THIS UGLY APARTHEID STATE

  9. Ladidah on December 12, 2015, 4:40 am

    Thanks for the article! Just want to make a few clarifications:

    -EXCERPT- “When Jarrar ran as a legislator in 2006, she was balloted with the Ali Abu Mustafa Martyr Brigades, an organization the PFLP called its “armed wing” on its website and takes its name after a former general-secretary who was killed by Israeli forces in his home in 2001” -END EXCERPT-

    The name of the PFLP’s armed wing is the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, or just the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades. “Martyr” here is in reference to Abu Ali Mustafa, it is not “Martyr Brigades,” it is the “Brigades of the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa.” Abu Ali Mustafa was killed by a helicopter-fired US made missile in his Ramallah office in 2001 and is the General Secretary referred to here.

    On the other hand, the PFLP’s electoral list was the “Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa List.” In Palestine, there are many institutions named “Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa,” including schools, squares and streets. Many of these are associated with the Front, but Abu Ali Mustafa is seen as a national martyr (alongside Arafat, Ahmad Yassin, Fathi Shiqaqi and others) so these are also the name of national Palestinian institutions. There are also student lists that take this name in student elections and are associated with the Palestinian Left.

    -EXCERPT- “The group gave up militant acts in consort with other major Palestinian parties in 2005 in peace talks with Israel after carrying out eight suicide attacks during the second Intifada. One year before Jarrar joined the list. While the movement is largely recognized as ending its armed struggle, in recent years a handful of Palestinian attackers have claimed membership, casting doubt the armed-wing disbanded. ” -END EXCERPT-

    Just to be clear, the PFLP’s armed wing has not disbanded, nor has it announced it has disbanded. It also doesn’t participate in peace talks with Israel. The armed wing of the Front is highly active in Gaza, was part of the resistance in the last several wars on Gaza, etc. The PFLP’s position is to refuse “calm,” “truce,” and also any negotiations with the occupier. The PFLP’s armed wing is absolutely committed to consulting with other resistance factions in order to develop a joint approach to all forms of struggle, which includes armed struggle and popular/mass struggle, to liberate Palestine.

    finally, -EXCERPT- “However, Jarrar disputed her membership to Mondoweiss, explaining the PFLP is a banned movement by the Israeli government, as with all Palestinian political parties…“My list is not the Popular Front, in the Parliament,” Jarrar stated, “We have to try to work in other ways, so we held elections with another name, not the Popular Front.”-END EXCERPT-

    Jarrar here is not actually challenging her membership in the Front. Khalida Jarrar is a prominent spokesperson for the Front. She is simply saying that her list in the parliament – like all of the lists, for example “the Hamas list” is the Change and Reform List – is not officially that of the party. Jarrar’s role in the Front is not a secret in any way, it is highly public. This form of speaking is simply a means of dealing with the occupation, which as the author of this piece noted, criminalizes all major Palestinian political parties.

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