A well-known Palestinian lawmaker and feminist activist was arrested Saturday night, July 1, near the West Bank city of Ramallah as part of a combined operation by the Israeli Army and the Shin Bet Security Agency, a year after she was released from custody.
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar, along with fellow Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member and feminist activist, Khitam Khatib, were among 11 individuals arrested during the operation “on suspicion of involvement with terrorist activities and violent public disturbances,” the army said in a statement. The chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Khitam Saafin, was also arrested in the West Bank town of Beituniya on the same night.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi released a statement in which she deplored the arrests: “We protest the arrest of Palestinian lawmakers and women activists, as well as the ongoing detention of Palestinian political and civil society leaders,” Ashrawi wrote, adding that, “Clearly, th[ese] political arrest[s are] further proof that the judicial system in Israel bears no resemblance to justice.”
Ashrawi called for the immediate release of Jarrar and Saafin and the other detainees, saying: “Israel must not be given a free hand to dehumanize the Palestinian people and systematically devalue their basic rights and lives.” The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees strongly denounced the arrests of the women in a statement conveyed by Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun. The union described the political detention of leaders of the women’s movement as being one “of many attempts to silence the free Palestinian voice that confronts the occupation and its attacks on the Palestinian people.”
The Progressive Labor Union Front in Palestine also issued a statement on the seizure of Jarrar and Saafin by Israeli forces. “These arrests are racist, fascist actions aimed at silencing the voices of truth,” it said.
PFLP member Jarrar was elected in 2006 to the PLC, but the Palestinian parliament has not met since 2007. Jarrar was prominently involved in cementing the Palestinian Authority’s bid to join the International Criminal Court, a PLO spokesperson said in 2015.
Jarrar was released from an Israeli jail a year ago, a month early. Upon her release Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, and dozens of supporters, greeted her. In a Facebook post on his page at the time, Odeh described Jarrar as a freedom fighter and Palestinian Member of Parliament. He wrote that he felt a duty to welcome her upon her release from prison and that he “had the honor of being next to her on her way to [future] elections.”
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