Palestinian legislator arrested in West Bank

Member of Khalida Jarrar’s Palestinian Legislative Committee calls her detention a “direct attack” on democracy.

Jarrar is a member of a leftist group designated a terrorist organisation by the US and Israel [Getty Images]

Ramallah – Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Committee (PLC), has been arrested during a raid on her home by the Israeli army.

“They came this morning at around 1am. There were about 50 or 60 soldiers, both male and female,” Ghassan Jarrar, Khalida’s husband, told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

“They smashed the front gate of our home, and then broke into the house. They searched every room, took a lot of documents, stole our computers, and [Khalida’s] mobile. Then they decided to arrest her.”

The PLC is the body of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in charge of drafting and enacting laws, though it has been suspended since 2007, after a national Palestinian election that saw Hamas dominate the parliament, and the ensuing Hamas-Fatah split.

A representative of the media relations department of the PLC told Al Jazeera that Khalida Jarrar’s arrest was “a direct attack” on the freedom of Palestinian lawmakers and democracy generally. “This is an unlawful abduction, and is representative of the harsh reality of the Israeli occupation,” the representative noted.

The Israeli army told Al Jazeera that Khalida Jarrar “has actively supported and encouraged terrorist activities over recent months… [her] detention is based on substantive concerns for the security and safety of the region.”

Previous arrests

This is not the first time the Israeli army has arrested representatives from the PLC. In 2006, shortly after the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by fighters from the besieged Gaza Strip, Israel arrested dozens of Palestinian officials serving in the PA.

Many of those arrested were ministers and PLC members from Hamas, whose military wing constitutes the largest armed group in Gaza.

Khalida Jarrar is a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Palestinian group designated a terrorist organisation by the United States and Israel, and has long advocated for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

She heads the Prisoner’s Commission on the PLC, and also formerly served as the executive director of Addameer, a prisoner support and human rights group based in Ramallah.

An official from Addameer told Al Jazeera that “details about her arrest were unclear,” and that Khalida Jarrar is currently being held in an undisclosed location.

A press release from the prisoners’ rights group said that her arrest “constitutes an attack against Palestinian political leaders and Palestinian civil society as a whole,” and calls for her immediate release.

Travel ban

Her husband said that when he asked the commanding officer about the reason for the arrest, the soldier refused to give an answer. Ghassan Jarrar said he was not sure as to the motivations behind the arrest, but that he overheard the commanding officer telling his wife that she “refused to leave” after the army issued the order for her to vacate her residence.

He went on to say that it could possibly be a retaliatory measure in response to Palestine joining the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinian MP has been under a travel ban since 1998, only leaving the occupied West Bank once for medical treatment in Jordan. In August 2014, she was ordered by the Israeli army to leave Ramallah for Jericho, a city in the southeastern West Bank for six months.

Activists and civil society initiated an international solidarity campaign, and the order was lessened to one month. Khalida Jarrar never left her residence in Ramallah.

The travel ban has also worsened her health. Ghassan Jarrar told Al Jazeera that she takes anticoagulants to keep her blood from clotting, as well as high blood pressure medication “every day”. He added that the soldiers allowed his wife to take medicine with her.

Source: Al Jazeera