Palestinian political and civil society leader Khalida Jarrar, 58, has been released after close to two years in Israeli prisons.
Israeli authorities released Jarrar, a left-wing figure and member of the now-defunct Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), at the Salem checkpoint west of Jenin city on Sunday afternoon.
The Israeli army arrested Jarrar from her home in Ramallah on October 31, 2019, eight months after she was released following 20 months in administrative detention without trial or change.
In July, one of Jarrar’s two daughters, 31-year-old Suha, died in Ramallah after health complications, leading to mass calls for Israel to release the politician early to attend her daughter’s funeral, which Israel rejected.
After her release, Jarrar went to the Ramallah Cemetery later on Sunday where Suha is buried.
Dozens of prominent members, supporters and leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) political party, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Qadura Faris, governor of Ramallah and al-Bireh cities, Leila Ghannam, and dozens of Palestinian journalists were present at the cemetery when Jarrar arrived.
“They forbade me from participating in the funeral of my beloved daughter and from planting a kiss on my daughter’s forehead,” Jarrar said at the cemetery.
“They denied me her farewell,” she added before breaking down in tears. “The last time I hugged Suha was the night of my arrest in 2019.”
A senior PFLP leader said that while “it is a really painful moment and words do not express the feeling of deep sadness, we are happy that Jarrar is free from the occupation’s prison”.
Jarrar held in administrative detention again until March this year when an Israeli military court charged her with “membership in an illegal organization” due to affiliation with the PFLP, a charge over which she was previously imprisoned.
Ramallah-based Addameer prisoners’ rights group said at the time that “all [her] such detentions and arrests constitute a flagrant violation of international law and contradicts the internationally established legal principle and prohibition of trying a person for the same act twice”.
Israel outlaws more than 400 organisations, including all Palestinian political parties – including the ruling Fatah party and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – as “terrorist groups”.
It regularly sentences many Palestinians on the pretext of “membership in an illegal organisation” or “providing services to one” due to their political affiliations, or any kind of peaceful activity.
Jarrar has long been a target of the Israeli occupation due to her outspoken nature and political activism.
She has spent much of the last six years in and out of Israeli prisons, including between July 2017 and February 2019 in administrative detention, an Israeli policy that allows the imprisonment of Palestinians indefinitely, on “secret information,” without presenting them with formal charges or allowing them to stand trial.
In 2015, she was sentenced to 15 months over the same charge – “membership in an illegal organization”.
Israeli authorities have banned her from travel since 1988, except for a three-week trip to Amman, Jordan, for medical treatment.
Jarrar was elected as a member of the PLC on the PFLP list in 2006. She has also been appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up with the International Criminal Court.
Additional reporting by Mohammed Najib in Ramallah