Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Khalida Jarrar's ordeal exposes Israel's arbitrary detention of Palestinians

The baseless jailing of an elected official flies in the face of all accepted ideas of jurisprudence

Khalida Jarrar is greeted by supporters after her release from an Israeli prison near the West Bank town of Tulkarem. AP Photo
Khalida Jarrar is greeted by supporters after her release from an Israeli prison near the West Bank town of Tulkarem. AP Photo

Palestinian MP and human rights activist Khalida Jarrar is a living example of Israel’s disregard for human rights, and proof that there, equality is not guaranteed for all. Having been detained for almost two years without charge, Ms Jarrar was released this week. In an interview with The National, she shared the details of her ordeal. “They would put us in a truck, which looked very nice from the outside,” she said, recalling her journeys from prison to an Israeli military court, “but inside we’d be in handcuffs sitting in cages for hours." Ms Jarrar was frequently held in solitary confinement, and her detention was extended three times without charge or trial, based on allegations that she might commit a future offence. Such an approach flies in the face of all accepted jurisprudence.

Israel’s policy of “administrative detention” – which allows imprisonment without trial for renewable six-month periods – has facilitated the arbitrary incarceration of Palestinians for decades. The fact that the baseless jailing of an elected official for 20 months brings no ramifications for Israeli authorities shows how helpless Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody really are. And the impunity of these practises is part of a trend. Writing on his Instagram account on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel is “the nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people”, in reference to the controversial July Nation-State law. Among other punitive measures, this legislation downgraded Arabic from its position as an official language. These chauvinistic measures have embedded in law the status of Arabs as second-class citizens and provided further justification for the spread of illegal settlements.

Ms Jarrar does not plan to let the injustices she faced hinder her work for equality and justice. After her release, she continues to speak for more than 5,000 Palestinians prisoners languishing in Israeli jails. “I will not stop,” Ms Jarrar said, “because I will defend my people.” As Israel prepares for elections in April, Mr Netanyahu’s use of divisive rhetoric is a short-sighted attempt to secure right-wing votes. But Ms Jarrar’s brave stance shows that spreading hatred will only be detrimental to his country in the long run.

Updated: March 11, 2019 07:08 PM

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