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Palestinian leftist legislator, feminist, and prisoners’ advocate Khalida Jarrar was released after 14 months in Israeli prison on Friday, 3 June, where she was met by a crowd of supporters at the Jubara checkpoint near Tulkarem. Jarrar will hold open receptions tonight, 4 June and tomorrow, 5 June, at the Palestinian Legislative Council offices, celebrating her release.

At the press conference, Jarrar urged intensified action for prisoners. “We must move from words to actions.” She denounced the action of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to cut family visits for Palestinian men prisoners from twice to once a month, saying that this action must be fought and is entirely rejected by Palestinian prisoners. Imprisoned Palestinians “wait minute by minute for vistation,” Jarrar said, noting that family visits are crucial for Palestinian prisoners on many levels.

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Jarrar detailed the situation faced by Palestinian women prisoners, including the difficulties of their lives and the abuses against them by the Israeli prison administration. She also discussed the prisoners’ work among themselves to collectively continue to struggle, learn from one another and develop their resistance inside the prison. Jarrar emphasized that Palestinian women in prison are struggling for national and social liberation, as full participants and leaders in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and the Palestinian liberation struggle.

In particular, she highlighted the case of Lena Jarbouni, the longest-serving woman prisoner in Israeli jails. Imprisoned for nearly 15 years, Jarbouni is serving a 17-year sentence. A Palestinian from Akka who holds Israei citizenship, she was accused of “aiding the enemy” and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. She is the spokesperson and representative of women prisoners held in HaSharon prison, and Jarrar referred to her as a “teacher” for herself and their fellow prisoners, who teaches Hebrew to fellow women prisoners and plays a critical role in advocating for education for imprisoned minor girls. Jarrar repeatedly urged broader action to support and advocate for freedom for Jarbouni.

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She also noted the cases of Karim Younis and Walid Abu Daqqa, some of the longest-serving prisoners in Israeli prisons, having spent over 30 years in prison. She noted that she briefly met Younis while they were being transported in the infamous prison transfer vehicle known as the “bosta,” a metal vehicle where prisoners are shackled for lengthy transfers, trips to court or to the hospital. She also noted that with the approach of Ramadan, Palestinian prisoners yearn for the connection to their families which is being denied them by the Israeli occupation.

Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council of the Abu Ali Mustafa Bloc and a prominent leftist leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is a member of the Board of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and its former executive director, a lifelong struggler for Palestinian freedom, Palestinian women and Palestinian prisoners. “We stand as part of a global struggle with all the world’s women freedom fighters: against injustice, exploitation and oppression,” said Jarrar. Arrested in a pre-dawn raid by Israeli occupation soldiers who raided her home on 1 April 2015, Jarrar was first ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial. Following an international outcry, Jarrar was charged in the Israeli military courts with 12 charges based entirely on public political activity, including giving speeches, attending events, and expressing support for Palestinian prisoners and their families. She was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, in addition to a suspended sentence and a fine.

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Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Khalida Jarrar, a struggler for liberation for the Palestinian prisoners and for the Palestinian people as a whole, on her release from the prisons of the
occupation, and welcomes her home with great joy. We join in her calls for intensified action to free Palestinian prisoners, to resist the ICRC’s attack on Palestinian prisoners’ family visits, and to campaign to free Lena Jerbouni and the Palestinian women prisoners. Khalida Jarrar is a Palestinian national leader who has remained such from behind prison bars, committed to the path of liberation from all forms of oppression and injustice. We congratulate Khalida Jarrar on her freedom and pledge to continue on her path of struggle until the freedom of every Palestinian political prisoner behind bars, and the freedom of Palestine.