Israel Releases Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar after 14 Months in Prison

Prominent Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar hugs a friend in her hometown, the West Bank city of Ramallah, following her release from an Israeli jail on June 3, 2016, after serving a 15-month sentence for encouraging attacks against Israelis and violating a travel ban. A prison service spokesman said Jarrar was being released a month early as part of an "administrative release," which can take place when prisons are filled beyond capacity. / AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI

Israeli authorities released imprisoned Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar on Friday, after being held for 14 months in Israeli prison.

The Israeli authorities released Jarrar at the Jbara checkpoint near the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem.

Leftwinger Khalida Jarrar, 53, was arrested in April 2015 and later sentenced to 15 months in prison for encouraging attacks against Israelis, according to the Israeli army.

A reception for Jarrar is expected to be organized on Saturday and Sunday in front the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) building, according to Jarrar’s family.

She was released a month early due to overcrowding in Israeli jails, according to the prisons’ administration.

“There are still many prisoners, more than 7,000 – including judges, parliamentarians, children and the sick,” Jarrar told reporters at her home in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

Jarrar, an executive committee member of the PLO and leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was detained on April 2 from her home in Ramallah and initially sentenced to six months of administrative detention — internment without trial or charge.

However, international pressure later forced Israeli authorities to bring charges against her, all 12 of which focused on her political activism.

Jarrar was charged with security-related offenses related to her membership and activities with the PFLP — a Palestinian political party Israel considers a “terrorist” organization, along with the majority of other Palestinian political factions — and accused of inciting violence.

A judge ordered Jarrar to be released on bail in May, claiming there was not sufficient evidence for her posing a security threat. However, another judge reversed the decision a week later, ordering her to remain in prison until her trial.

She was greeted by Ayman Odeh, the head of the Arab Joint List in the Israeli parliament, and dozens of supporters. Dozens of supporters also flocked to see her released, with crowds lifting her in the air and chanting.

Jarrar is a senior figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist party considered a terrorist organisation by Israel.

In December, an Israeli military court sentenced Jarrar to 15 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 shekels ($2,582), with an additional suspended sentence of 12 months within a five-year period.

At the time, Jarrar accused the Israeli military prosecution of working to keep her in jail as long as possible, adding that she “did not expect anything from military courts. They are a joke, it’s like a big theater, I do not trust them and my detention has been political since the beginning.”

Jarrar also said that she refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court, stating that all charges pressed against her were “ridiculous” and related to completely legal activities, including social and political work as a member of parliament.

Jarrar also heads the PLC’s prisoners’ committee and acts as the Palestinian representative in the Council of Europe, an

international organization promoting human rights and democracy around the world.

Her arrest was condemned by the international community, as Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups demanded her release.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said at the time that there was no legal basis for sentencing Jarrar, adding that “the actions of the Israeli military court are politically motivated and are part of a deliberate attack on Palestinian politicians. This also constitutes a blatant violation of Khalida’s parliamentary immunity.”

Ashrawi urged Israel to adhere to international law and the immunity of elected officials, adding that “it is high time for the dehumanization and the captivity of the Palestinian people to end.”

Following Jarrar’s release, six incumbent Palestinian parliament members still remain in Israeli prisons, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat.

Despite her release, Jarrar still has a five-year suspended sentence, according to Palestinian rights organisation Addameer.

Her husband Ghassan Jarrar, himself a leftist jailed multiple times, told AFP he was only able to see his wife during the hearings of her trial in an Israeli military court.

“It was very hard for her,” he said, adding proudly that she “set up a school in prison and five girls were able to pass their exams through it.”

Jarrar is a member of the Palestinian parliament which has not met since 2007 after elections a year earlier were won by the Hamas.