Khalida Jarrar leaves Israeli jail with “messages of freedom”

Khalida Jarrar surrounded by supporters.

Palestinian leftist lawmaker Khalida Jarrar embraced by family and supporters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on 28 February. 

Ahmad Arouri APA images

Israel released leftist Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar on Thursday after imprisoning her without charge or trial for 20 months.

She was taken from her home on 2 July 2017 during a pre-dawn raid in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

Israel has imprisoned Jarrar multiple times.

Pictures of Jarrar circulated on social media following her release:

“They told my family that I would be released from al-Jalameh military checkpoint at noon, but the prison authority brought a special bosta and decided to take me to Salem checkpoint and release me in the early hours,” Jarrar said in a video:

Bosta is the name for a vehicle used to transfer prisoners in tiny metal cages with their arms and legs chained, often for hours at a time – a brutal form of abuse.

“They released mom in the very early hours at a different location and let her walk free by herself in the middle of nowhere. In spite of Israel’s attempts to disrupt her reception, mom is free!” Jarrar’s daughter Yafa said on social media, according to prisoners rights group Samidoun.

Khalida Jarrar visited her father’s grave following her release.

Khalida Jarrar stands near her father's tombstone with others.

Khalida Jarrar prays over her father’s grave following her release from an Israeli jail in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on 28 February. 

Shadi Jarar’ah APA images

“In the end, we wish for the release of all prisoners and we carry their messages of freedom,” Jarrar added.

Prisoners conditions

The lawmaker pointed to “the difficult conditions female prisoners are living in, especially after they were gathered and transferred from HaSharon prison to Damon prison, where they live in inhuman conditions.”

The Palestinian Authority prisoners committee said that Israeli prison authorities were providing prisoners at Damon with rotten and expired food.

They added that surveillance cameras are still installed in the courtyard, forcing women to wear the hijab – a headscarf – even inside their rooms.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Israeli jails in the Naqab (Negev) region in southern Israel are dissolving prisoner organizations in protest of crackdowns by Israeli prison authorities.

Palestinian women held at HaSharon prison protested the authorities’ decision to turn on surveillance cameras in the prison yard in September, by refusing to go into the yard.

Jarrar addressed Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan’s plan, announced last month, to worsen conditions for Palestinians in Israeli prisons and reduce their standard of living to “the minimum required,” according to The Times of Israel.

Erdan is part of a committee with several Knesset members, as well as the Shin Bet, that determines the conditions of Palestinian prisoners and imposes further restrictions on them.

“Part of the attack was on female prisoners,” Jarrar told Wattan TV following her release. “They are trying to corner female prisoners in a reality where they restart their struggle from square one.”

“Rooms are very humid, electrical installations are dangerous because they are wet, especially in the winter, and it causes fires,” Jarrar said. “The courtyard is filled with cameras. We don’t have a library, we don’t have a classroom. There is no kitchen and prisoners are forced to cook in their humid rooms.”

Erdan announced the blocking of prisoner welfare funds from the Palestinian Authority, reducing prisoners’ autonomy and restricting water supplies.

He claimed that prisoners’ water consumption is “crazy” and a way for them “to subvert the state,” according to Haaretz.

The newspaper did not spell out how much water Palestinian prisoners are alleged to use.

Named in government report

Aiming to discredit and smear the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, the Israeli government released a report last month titled “Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs promoting BDS and Terrorist Organizations.”

The report labels Jarrar, a board member of prisoners rights group Addameer, as one of “numerous members and terrorist operatives [who] have become leading figures in [nongovernmental organizations] which delegitimize and promote boycotts against Israel, while concealing or downplaying their terrorist past.”

It is notable that Israel did not charge Jarrar at all in the past 20 months, given their claim she has “terrorist” ties.

Jarrar is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a former leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Israel considers that political faction, along with virtually all other Palestinian political parties, to be a “terrorist” organization. There are currently eight Palestinian lawmakers in Israeli jails, five held under administrative detention.

Palestinian artist Mustapha Awad is also named in the report.

He has been imprisoned since July, and was sentenced to one year in an Israeli prison in November.

Awad, 36, was born in Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon and was granted asylum in Belgium at age 20.

Like many Palestinian refugees, Awad had never been to Palestine and decided to visit this past summer, but he was detained by Israeli authorities as he tried to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan and has been imprisoned since.

Israel accuses Awad, the co-founder of a folk dance group, of membership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Egypt releases Hamas members

Egyptian authorities released four Hamas members on Thursday who were abducted by gunmen in Egypt in August 2015, and four other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas members Abdeldayim Abu Libdah, Abdullah Abu al-Jubain, Hussein al-Zibdah and Yasir Zannoun arrived through the Rafah crossing in the Gaza Strip accompanied by member of the Hamas political bureau Rawhi Mushtaha.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who had returned to the Strip the day before, reportedly thanked Egyptian authorities for releasing the men.

Local media circulated pictures of the prisoners after their release:

The four Hamas members were abducted by masked men after entering Egypt from Gaza through the Rafah crossing and were on a bus heading to Cairo International Airport when the abduction occurred.

Egypt never officially admitted that it was detaining them.

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Please investigate the Israeli regime’s threats this week to demolish buildings at the Tent of Nations near Bethlehem where the Nassar fanily continue to “refuse to be enemies” and welcome people from around the world - including many supportive Jewish groups - to help the Nassar work their fields, plant olive and fruit trees (to replace those destroyed by invading Settlers and IDF troops) and continue their message of non-violent resistance to the Occupation.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.