Khalida Jarrar

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Khalida Jarrar
Khalida Jarrar (cropped).jpg
Palestinian Legislative Council member
In office
2006 – present
Personal details
Born 1963[1]
Nationality Palestinian
Political party Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Spouse(s) Ghassan Jarrar

Khalida Jarrar (Arabic: خالدة جرار‎‎) is a Palestinian feminist, human rights activist and senior lawyer for the PLO.[2] She is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)[3] and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). She was elected to PLC in January 2006 as one of the PFLP's three deputies[4][5] and has continued to serve as an elected representative ever since. She is also the Palestinian representative on the Council of Europe and is currently head of the Prisoners Committee of the PLC.[6] She played a major role in Palestine's application to join the International Criminal Court.[7] On April 2, 2015, she was arrested and held in administrative detention. Subsequently, charges were brought and her trial began on 15 April 2015. She was sentenced to 15 months in prison by an Israeli military tribunal and ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 shekels ($2,582) in December 2015. She was released from Israeli detention, after an international campaign on her behalf, in early June 2016 She has received her bachelor's and master's degrees in human rights and democracy from Bir Zeit University.[8]


In 1985, after a five-year engagement, and when she had completed her master's degree at Bir Zeit,[9] Jarrar married Ghassan Jarrar, a fellow student, and now a manufacturer of children's furniture,[10] who, though he is no longer a political activist, has been arrested 14 times and spent 11 years without trial or charges being laid under administrative detention in Israeli prisons.[9] The couple have two daughters, Yafa and Suha, both in Canada as doctoral students, respectively in law and environmental sciences,[10] who grew up thinking soldiers pounding on one's doors, arrests and the imprisonment of parents was a normal part of children's lives.[11] The couple live in al-Bireh, Ramallah.[12][13][14]


Jarrar has been a human rights activist for many years. She has been active for a number of years in support of Palestinian prisoners, and she served as the director of Addameer, a Prisoners' Support and Human Rights NGO in Ramallah[15] from 1993 to 2005 and remains a board member. She has also previously worked with UNRWA and has been prominently active in working with Palestinian women and advocating for women's rights.[3]

Since 1998 Jarrar has been banned from travelling outside of the occupied Palestinian territories, after she attended the Human Rights Defenders' Summit in Paris that year.[15] In 2005 the Israeli authorities refused to allow her to leave the country, the 6th such refusal since 2000, to attend a human rights conference in Ireland organized by Frontline, namely the "Third Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders", programmed to take place in Dublin, 13–15 October 2005. She had at the time never been charged with any criminal offence by the Israeli authorities.[16] Since March 2006, she has been the PFLP's senior political leader, after the group's Secretary General Ahmad Sa'adat was arrested and place in solitary confinement.[14]

She was interviewed for the Goldstone Report by telephone in 2009 on the Gaza War (2008–09), after she was denied permission to leave the West Bank.[15]

Health problem[edit]

Jarrar has suffered from bouts of Deep Vein Thrombosis, and her lawyer has expressed concern that appropriate medical care for her condition might not be available in an Israeli prison.[17] In July 2010, Jarrar was informed by a doctor that tests indicated she needed an urgent brain scan to establish an exact neurological diagnosis. Since the medical equipment to make the diagnosis was not available on the West Bank, where she is detained, she was informed that the PNA's Health Ministry would cover the costs of her hospitalization in Amman, but not in Israel. As a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, expatriation for medical tests should, she was assured, could be arranged. An Israeli official for the Civil Administration of the West Bank, said there was no security threat were she to be treated in Jordan. On August 29, she was denied transit to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge, and Shin Bet stated that she was a security threat to the region.[1] Former European Parliament vice president Luisa Morgantini called on the European Parliament to intervene by requesting that Israel allow Jarrar to go to Amman for the necessary medical treatment.[18] Subsequently she was allowed, later that year, to travel to Amman for treatment.[8][19]

Expulsion Order[edit]

On 20 August 2014, approximately 50 Israeli soldiers surrounded Jarrar's home in Ramallah, and an Israeli officer gave her an expulsion order stating she was a threat to the security of the region and was to leave her home of residence, Ramallah, and transfer to the district of Jericho where she was to live under a restricted movement protocol for six months. The order was to be considered immediately effective. She rejected the order, stating: "it is the occupation who must leave our homeland."[12] Ramallah, according to the Oslo Accords, is located in Area A, and under complete Palestinian jurisdiction.[8] Jarrar refused to sign the order.[8]

Jarrar made an appeal against the decision to an Israeli court, which reduced the restriction period from 6 to 1 month.[20] But Jarrar actually never left Ramallah. According to a left-wing columnist of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, her refusal to be deported lead to her arrest in April 2015.[21]

Administrative Detention and Trial[edit]

On 2 April 2015, at around 1:15 a.m., Jarrar was arrested at her home by Israeli soldiers. Her husband says that a unit of 50–60 soldiers smashed the front gate and broke into the house,[19] but otherwise did not act violently.[10] No reason was given him for the arrest, though a commander, a Captain Yihye, said she had flouted an earlier army order to leave her home.[10][19] Soldiers tried to prevent the husband and wife from embracing as she left, but Yihye intervened to allow them to do so.[10] According to the arrest warrant, she was involved in 'incitement and involvement in terror.'[13] She was incarcerated in HaSharon prison.[10] Two computers and a mobile phone were confiscated.[13] A six-month administrative detention, which can be renewed indefinitely,[20] was issued against her by Central Command Chief Gen. Roni Numa and was reviewed by a military court on April 8,[7] where it was confirmed, despite international protests. Her detention without trial[22] was condemned by Israel's Haaretz newspaper, which claimed Israel at times adopts the procedure excessively.[23] Though International humanitarian law does accept administrative detention in exceptional cases and only as a last resort,[24] human rights groups argue that Israel, which claims the detentions thwart militant attacks, exceeds the limits by its extensive recourse to the practice.[25]

Israel's Palestinian Arab MPS, including Ahmad Tibi, called for her immediate release and Aida Touma-Suleiman called it 'a political detention of an elected official who is opposed to the occupation.'[22] A Palestinian prisoner advocate who tracks the welfare of Palestinian prisoners, Kaddoura Fares, said the timing of the arrest aroused suspicions that Israel's measure against Jarrar was motivated by vindictiveness, given her role in monitoring International Criminal Court (ICC) procedures, and the fact that the order for her detention was implemented immediately after the Palestinian National Authority was accepted as a member of the ICC and was arrested just after the Palestinian Authority joined the ICC.[22] Her husband also stated it may be a possible retaliation for Palestine's membership of the ICC.[19] Amnesty International noted that Jarrar suffers from chronic health problems, with the prospect of facing indefinite detention without charge or trial.[26] 58 Members of the European Parliament protested her arrest in an open letter to Federica Mogherini, stating that attempts to forcibly transfer a person under occupation, to which she was subject in August 2014, constituted a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.[6] Haaretz stated at the time of her arrest:

'If Jarrar broke the law, Israel must put her on trial and prove she committed a crime. If, on the other hand, the reason for her detention is revenge, she must be released immediately.'[23]

Her administrative detention led to formal imprisonment pending a trial, which began with a closed session on April 15, at a military criminal court at Ofer Prison where the prosecutor at the Israeli military court laid 12 charges against her, based on her association with the PFLP, including membership of an organization Israel classifies as illegal; participation in protests, and incitement to kidnap Israeli soldiers.[4] Several counts refer to her having given interviews, speeches and lectures, participating in marches and a politicized book fair, calling for Palestinian prisoners to be released, and opposing the Israeli occupation.[9]

Haaretz has called the trials “a Kafkaesque perversion of military law.”[9] According to Addameer, the presiding judge confirmed the administrative detention order, which means she cannot be released on bail.[27] A date of 29 April was set for a judicial review of the charges,[4] in a hearing that will determine if she is to be detained on remand until the end of her trial. If it is decided that she will be remanded, the administrative detention order will be cancelled. If she is not remanded, the order for her administrative detention will be reviewed on 6 May 2015.[27] On April 26, a Haaretz editorial argued that the Military Advocate General had decided to press terrorist charges against her only after her arbitrary detention aroused international criticism and that a suspicion exists was that the trial was payback for her involvement in Palestine's successful entry into the ICC.[28] The Editorial noted that the arrest of a democratically elected official in violation of her parliamentary immunity, by Israeli forces inside territory under full Palestinian jurisdiction had been generally ignored by the Israeli media, had stirred almost no protests by women's groups on behalf of a female activist, and no significant move by her counterparts in the Israeli Knesset.[28] She was the only female detained under Israel's administrative detention policy,[17] and joined a further 16 Palestinian law-makers already imprisoned without trial under the same administrative detention measure,[25] along with 450 administrative detainees held in prison with no legal process,[23] 319 of which have been served with administrative detention orders in the first 4 months of 2015, six times higher than the number for the preceding year, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Centre for Studies.[24]

Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar with MK Ayman Odeh Head of the Joint List after the Israeli authorities released her

On 21 May 2015 the court ruled Jarrar was to be released to house arrest. She was also fined $5,180. Amnesty International, which stated she had been brought to stand trial with her legs in shackles, reportedly stated that the judge had ruled that the prosecution's case was based on insufficient and dated evidence.[29] The prosecution was given 3 days to appeal the decision.[30] The prosecution then appealed the decision to release her on bail, and the court reversed the ruling on May 28, stating Jarrar was a "security risk" on the basis of secret evidence, according to Addameer The court ordered that she been held in detention until proceedings against her have concluded.[29][31] Her trial is scheduled for June 22. If convicted she faces a prison term of up to 2 years.[9]

By November, 2015, Jarrar was still under arrest, in what her attorney called "a circus, a charade". Witnesses, who had been asked to identify Jarrar, had been presented with pictures of 7 people, where only one person, Ms. Jarrar, was female.[32]

On December 6, 2015 Jarrar received a 15-month jail sentence for belonging to an illegal organization and "incitement," with a suspended sentence of a year within a five-year period. She was also fined $2,582,[33] and released on June 3, 2016.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Amira Hass,'No exit: A Palestinian legislator trapped in the West Bank,' Haaretz 6 September 2010
  2. ^ David Hearst, 'INTERVIEW: Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar,' Middle East Eye 2 April 2015
  3. ^ a b 'Israel arrests leftist lawmaker Khalida Jarrar,' Middle East Eye 2 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c 'Israeli court brings 12 charges against MP Khalida Jerrar,' Ma'an News Agency 18 April 2015.'Until the charges against her on Wednesday, Jerrar had been held in Israeli prisons under administrative detention.'
  5. ^ Michael Bröning, Political Parties in Palestine: Leadership and Thought, Palgrave 2013 pp.108-112 (interview) p.102.
  6. ^ a b '58 MEPs address letter to HR/VP Mogherini concerning arrest of PLC member Khalida Jarrar,' GUE/NGL 14 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b 'PA lawmaker sent to six months in jail without trial,' The Times of Israel, 6 April 2015
  8. ^ a b c d 'Urgent Appeal: Palestinian Legislative Council Member Khalida Jarrar Expelled to Jericho,' Addameer org. 20 August 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e Killian Redden, 'Married to Khalida Jarrar: Bound, separated by the Palestinian cause,' Ma'an News Agency 15 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Gideon Levy, Alex Levac, 'My wife, the jailed Palestinian MP,' Haaretz 24 April 2015.
  11. ^ Gideon Levy and Alex Levac,'A rare moment of humanity in an Israeli military court,' Haaretz 27 June 2015.
  12. ^ a b Charlotte Kates, 'She Speaks the Truth':Palestinian leftist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar arrested in early-morning Israeli raid Israel/Palestine,' Mondoweiss, April 2, 2015
  13. ^ a b c 'Israel arrests Palestinian lawmaker,' The Times of Israel 2 April 2015.
  14. ^ a b Naela Khalil,'Israel arrests Palestinian MP in pre-dawn raid,' Al-Araby, 2 April 2015.
  15. ^ a b c Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, Philip Weiss, Desmond Tutu, The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict, Nation Books, 2011 pp.251-2.
  16. ^ Hina Jilani,'Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Defenders,' Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, E/CN.4/2006/95/Add.1 22 March 2006.
  17. ^ a b 'Lawyer: Israel to detain Palestinian MP for six months,' Al Jazeera 6 April 2015.
  18. ^ 'EU official: Israel denying lawmaker access to hospital,' Ma'an News Agency 20 September 2010.
  19. ^ a b c d Creede Newton, 'Palestinian legislator arrested in West Bank,'Al Jazeera 2 April 2015.
  20. ^ a b 'Press Briefing,' Human Rights Council, United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) 10 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Khalida Jarrar: Palestinian Human Rights Activist Wanted by Israel". Retrieved 20 August 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  22. ^ a b c Jack Khoury, 'Israeli Arab MKs call for release of Palestinian lawmaker arrested by Israel,' Haaretz 8 April 2015.
  23. ^ a b c Haaretz Editorial, 'Israel is punishing Palestinian activist through vindictive administrative detention,', Haaretz, 7 April 2015:'International conventions do not prohibit administrative detentions, but restrict their use to extremely irregular cases, due to the harsh infringement of civil and prisoners’ rights involved. Israel interprets this restriction too liberally and sometimes makes excessive use of the detentions, without letting the public know whether there is any justification for them..'
  24. ^ a b Michele de Carlo,'Indefinite jail without trial? That's Israeli justice,' Al-Araby, 13 April 2015:'B'Tselem, the Israeli information centre for human rights, said: "International law stipulates that it may be exercised only in very exceptional cases - and then only as a last possible resort, when there are no other available means - to prevent the danger."
  25. ^ a b Associated Press, 'Israel to detain female Palestinian lawmaker for 6 months, lawyer says,' Ynet 6 April 2015.
  26. ^ 'Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories: Parliamentarian detained without charge: Khalida Jarrar,' Amnesty International 7 April 2015.
  27. ^ a b 'PLC Member Khalida Jarrar indicted but continues to be detained under administrative detention,' Addameer 15 April 2015.
  28. ^ a b Haaretz Editorial, 'Israel must free Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar,' Haaretz, 26 April 26, 2015.
  29. ^ a b 'Israeli military court goes back on Jarrar release,' Ma'an News Agency2 June 2015.
  30. ^ 'Israel to release MP Khalida Jarrar under house arrest,' Ma'an News Agency 21 May 2015.
  31. ^ Israeli court keeps Jarrar in detention
  32. ^ Palestinian lawmaker detained by Israeli military court, Shlomi Eldar, 12 november, 2015, Al-Monitor
  33. ^ 'Israel sentences Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar to 15 months in jail,' Ma'an News Agency 7 December 2015.
  34. ^ 'Israeli authorities release Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar,' Ma'an News Agency 3 June 2016.

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