In the early hours of the morning on April 2, dozens of Israeli soldiers burst into a house near Ramallah and forcibly seized Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian parliamentarian and mother of two Trent alumni. Held without charges, Jarrar is being considered a political prisoner, and an international campaign is calling for her immediate release.
Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, joins 16 other elected Palestinian lawmakers currently held in Israeli jails. Her arrest means that more than ten percent of Palestinian parliamentarians have now been incarcerated by Israeli forces, and more than half of them have not stood trial or been charged.
“My mother is an influential leader, feminist, and activist,” said Trent alumnus Suha Jarrar. “She speaks strongly and loudly against colonization and oppression. Her arrest is a reflection of Israel’s ongoing tactics to attack freedom of speech and silence those who speak freely against occupation and apartheid.”
Well-known as a feminist activist and director of the respected Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the elder Jarrar has repeatedly been targeted by the Israeli Forces.
In August, an occupation military court ordered that Khalida be deported from her hometown in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the forced transfer of individuals within an occupied territory.
At the time, Jarrar spoke of the parallels between her expulsion order and the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, as well as the continued denial of their right to return to their homeland.
Jarrar has also routinely been prevented from seeking vital medical care by the Israeli Forces. Prohibited from travelling outside of Palestine since 1998, it was only after a major international campaign that she was allowed to seek urgent health treatment in Jordan in 2010.
The MP still has a precarious health status, and needs to undergo laboratory tests every three days to safeguard her health and life. There are concerns that she may not receive proper treatment while detained in Israel’s HaSharon Prison.
“Israeli prisons are known for their medical negligence towards prisoners,” Yafa Jarrar, another Trent alumnus and daughter of Khalida, said. “Many prisoners have died due to ill treatment of their chronic diseases and health conditions.”
Ironically, it is those very conditions that Yafa and Suha’s mother worked to change through her work with Addameer. Now, with the human rights activist detained, the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network has launched a campaign demanding her immediate release.
Six ways to take action have been posted on the Samidoun website, including an online petition. The organization is also urging support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel to hold the country accountable for violations of international law, such as the detention of political prisoners.
“The Israeli occupation is vicious and their track record shows that anyone who speaks out against their aggression is a target,” Yafa Jarrar told Arthur. “My mother always speaks the truth to power. She is a woman and a loved leader. That is why they went after her.”