Jordan recalls ambassador in Israel to protest citizen detentions

Jordan's FM Ayman al-Safadi demands the immediate release of two Palestinian-Jordanian citizens arrested by Israel.

    An Israeli policeman tries to remove a string carrying portraits of Hiba al-Labadi, who is currently in Israeli custody [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]
    An Israeli policeman tries to remove a string carrying portraits of Hiba al-Labadi, who is currently in Israeli custody [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

    Jordan recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultation to protest against Israel's months-long detention of two citizens for reasons unknown.

    "In light of the Israeli government's refusal to heed our legitimate demands for releasing Jordanian citizens Hiba al-Labadi and Abdulrahman Miri, who have been illegally detained without charges for months, we decided to recall our ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultation as a first step," Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said.

    More:

    He demanded their immediate release and return to Jordan, which holds the Israeli government responsible for their lives, saying on Tuesday their "health conditions have severely deteriorated".

    Jordan will take the necessary legal and diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home, he said.

    "Administrative detention is illegal," al-Safadi added.

    The practice, widely condemned by human rights organisations, is a remnant of a British Mandate law that allows the detention of an individual without trial or any charges, which is subject to indefinite renewal.

    Handcuffed and interrogated

    Labadi was arrested in late August at the Allenby crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank and has not been formally charged. She has been on hunger strike for a month to protest her detention.

    According to attorney Jawad Boulos, the 24-year-old was interrogated for 16 days straight without being allowed to see a lawyer. Boulos, who has since visited Labadi in prison, said the interrogations lasted hours while she was handcuffed to a chair. The interrogators, Boulos wrote, cursed and spit at Labadi, and threatened to arrest her sister and mother.

    "All the means of torture and oppression were used to force her to sign a damning confession," Boulos said. "But despite the cruel investigation, she did not confess."

    Miri, 29, was also arrested at the Allenby border crossing on September 2, where he was travelling to attend a relative's wedding in the occupied West Bank. He has suffered from brain cancer since 2010, and has undergone several surgeries.

    The Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Authority published a letter by Labadi on October 8, where she recounted details of her interrogation.

    "The Israelis threatened me with administrative detention if I did not confess, saying they did not have evidence against me but they could renew my detention for seven and a half years," she wrote.

    "I've lost my sense of being as they do not know what humanity is. I told the interrogator that the psychological torture they carry out is much worse than physical torture - and he replied saying he knows that."

    Israel has not given reasons for Labadi or Miri's detention. A total of 25 Jordanian citizens are imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces.

    Earlier this month, Jordan's foreign ministry said it summoned the Israeli envoy in Amman and handed him a letter protesting the two citizens' detention.

    Israeli infiltrator arrested

    Meanwhile, Jordanian authorities arrested an Israeli man who infiltrated the kingdom through the northern border on Tuesday.

    The man was being questioned before being referred to the relevant authorities to take necessary legal measures, foreign ministry spokesman Sufian al-Qudah said, without giving more details.

    Some politicians called on the government not to release the Israeli man unless Israel frees the two detained Jordanians.

    Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, becoming the second country in the Arab world after Egypt to establish diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. The 25th anniversary of the agreement is this month.

    In 2017, a diplomatic crisis between the two nations erupted when an Israeli embassy guard in Amman killed two Jordanians, an act that Israel described as self defence.

    Following the incident, the guard and other embassy staff returned to Israel as the embassy in Amman closed for several months.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies