Palestinian women in Gaza protest for Palestinian prisoners, 26 December 2019. Photo: Hadf News

Palestinian leftist feminist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar, 56, will once again be brought before an Israeli military court at Ofer prison and military base near occupied Ramallah on Monday, 30 December. Imprisoned since 31 October, when over 70 armed Israeli occupation soldiers invaded her home, the internationally known political leader and advocate for Palestinian rights is being charged with “holding a position in a prohibited organization,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Like all major Palestinian political parties, the leftist PFLP is labeled a “prohibited organization” by the Israeli occupation.

Jarrar and several other Palestinian prisoners were the target of an official smear campaign conducted by the Shin Bet in Israeli media in recent days, as the agency touted and sensationalized its claimed arrest of 50 activists associated with the PFLP

Palestinian women in Gaza protest for Palestinian prisoners, 26 December 2019. Photo: Hadf News

As noted by Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz, “This charge sheet, which has one clause and takes up just one page, is mandatory reading. It exposes the naked – and disturbing – truth about Israel’s occupation authorities and security apparatuses, but also about the country’s media, their bonded lackey. This is not only a story about tyranny in the territories, not only about the fact that Jarrar, like thousands of other Palestinians, is a political prisoner in every respect – as the military prosecution itself admits this time. Nor is it only about the fact that Israel allows itself to arrest Palestinian elected officials without any inhibition. Equally disturbing is the blind, knee-jerk mobilization of the Israeli media in the service of the security establishment’s propaganda.”

The attacks on Jarrar in the Israeli media escalated just as the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced that she recommended the ICC launch a formal investigation of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine. Jarrar is a member of the Palestinian committee that acceded to the Rome Statute and the ICC and presented evidence to the international body about ongoing Israeli crimes. It also came as she prepared to teach at Bir Zeit University on international law and the Palestinian movement, alongside the targeting of students for their own political and student activity on campus.

Palestinian women in Gaza protest for Palestinian prisoners, 26 December 2019. Photo: Hadf News

While the Palestinian lawyers at Addameer representing Jarrar and fellow prisoners were forcibly silenced by a gag order prohibiting them from speaking about the cases of multiple Palestinians under Israeli imprisonment – including those subjected to severe torture, like Samer Arbeed – the Shin Bet issued sensationalist press releases about Jarrar and her fellow prisoners.

As noted by Levy, the charge sheet against Jarrar makes clear that her detention, like that of thousands of fellow Palestinians (including those held as freedom fighters in the resistance) is entirely political. Specifically, she is accused of being “director or assistant to the administration of an illegal association, or held a position or standing of some kind in an illegal association or under its auspices.”

The attacks on Jarrar also came as her case was highlighted in a report issued by Human Rights Watch, Born Without Civil Rights: Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank. The report, which also covers the case of artist Hafez Omar and human rights worker Najwan Odeh, reviews the long and ongoing history of Jarrar’s persecution by the Israeli occupation state.

Jarrar’s most recent arrest comes only eight months after her release from 20 months in Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention after being seized by occupation forces in 2017. While imprisoned, she played a leading role in supporting the education of fellow Palestinians jailed with her, especially minor girls preparing for their high school examinations and frequently denied a teacher. She organized classes for her fellow women prisoners on the principles of international human rights law. Over 275 organizations signed onto an international call for her release.

In 2014, she resisted – and defeated – an Israeli attempt to forcibly displace her from her family home in el-Bireh to Jericho. Only nine months later, in April 2015, she was seized by Israeli occupation forces and ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. After a global outcry, she was brought before Israeli military courts and faced 12 charges based on her political activity, from giving speeches to attending events in support of Palestinian prisoners. She served 15 months in Israeli prison – and was then free for only 13 months before her 2017 arrest.

Jarrar is a longtime advocate for the freedom of Palestinian prisoners and has served as the former Vice-Chair and Executive Director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council elected as part of the leftist Abu Ali Mustafa Bloc, associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, she chaired the PLC’s Prisoners Committee.

Jarrar’s case, along with those of imprisoned students like Mays Abu Ghosh, Shatha Hassan (the chair of the Bir Zeit Student Council Board) and Samah Jaradat, has once again highlighted the struggles of Palestinian women prisoners. There are currently approximately 41 Palestinian women prisoners, of whom four are held in administrative detention without charge or trial: Hassan, Bushra Tawil, Shurouq al-Badan and Alaa al-Bashir.

Palestinian women in Gaza protest for Palestinian prisoners, 26 December 2019. Photo: Hadf News

In Gaza, the women’s organizations of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas organized a protest on Thursday, 26 December in support of Palestinian women prisoners struggling for freedom. Iktimal Hamad, speaking on behalf of the PFLP, urged “the widest possible support for the struggling women prisoners, especially in light of the intensified oppressive policies and practices of the occupation targeting the rights that women prisoners have obtained through struggle.”

Palestinian women in Gaza protest for Palestinian prisoners, 26 December 2019. Photo: Hadf News

Specifically, she noted that “All attempts to break the will of Khalida Jarrar will not succeed, and she will remain strong and steadfast in all circumstances. The attempts to incite against the parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar are evidence of the failure and bankruptcy of the occupation. We urge international human rights institutions, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene urgently to protect the lives of the prisoners and to presssure the occupation to end the ongoing violations of prisoners’ rights, especially women prisoners subjected to various forms of physical and psychological torture.”

“We reaffirm our full support of the prisoners’ movement in confronting these Zionist attacks and we confirm that we are standing beside them, fully involved in this battle,” Hamad concluded.

As Yafa Jarrar, Khalida’s daughter, noted, “International pressure has made the difference in how quickly mom gets released in the past.” All 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners need your support in their struggle for justice and freedom.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all friends of Palestine, women’s organizations and supporters of social justice to join the campaign to free Khalida Jarrar and her fellow Palestinian prisoners. Together, we can defeat Israeli attempts to silence, smear and isolate Khalida by supporting her work, publicizing her case and demanding her freedom.

You can use the following flyers and social media images to join the campaign to free Khalida Jarrar and her fellow political prisoners. Download here and share widely!

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