We don’t know whether Israel’s detention of the Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar has anything to do with her passionate advocacy for prisoners’ rights. It could be her membership on a government-appointed committee mandated to follow up Palestine’s recent accession to the International Criminal Court. Israel is not saying. But one thing is quite clear: her case is rife with due process violations.
Israeli forces raided her West Bank home in Ramallah around 1 a.m. on April 2 and arrested her. They shuttled her to an Israeli settlement, then to two military bases, interrogating her at the second all morning, before transferring her to a prison inside Israel, her lawyers said. On April 5, the Israeli military commander of the West Bank ordered her administrative detention for six months.
Under Israeli law, the military can detain any Palestinian without charge or trial if it can convince a military judge that the evidence provides “reasonable grounds to believe” that the person poses a “danger to security.” The military is under no obligation to share that evidence with the person being detained. The military judge can approve a military order detaining him or her for up to six months; the detention can be indefinitely renewed.
The Fourth Geneva Convention on military occupations allows for temporary detention of civilians without charge “if necessary, for imperative reasons of security.” That’s an easy claim to make when the 400-plus Palestinian administrative detainees are provided no fair opportunity to contest the evidence against them.
Jarrar – a 52-year-old member of the Palestinian parliament – is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political party that Israel has deemed an “illegal terrorist organization.” The party has an armed wing that has attacked Israeli civilians – acts Human Rights Watch has condemned – but the Israeli military hasn’t charged her with any link to such attacks. During her interrogation on April 2, Israeli officials played three videos of her making speeches and questioned her about her political statements, Jarrar later told her lawyer.
Jarrar is no stranger to Israeli harassment. Israel has banned her from traveling abroad since 1998, although it allowed her to receive medical treatment in Jordan in 2010. Last August, the military issued a “supervision order” requiring her to leave her home and stay in Jericho for six months on the basis that she posed a security threat due to her alleged “incitement and involvement in terror.” She ignored the order and set up a protest tent outside the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah; the military later shortened her expulsion to 30 days and took no further action to enforce it.
On April 8, a military court held a hearing to determine whether to uphold Jarrar’s administrative detention order. The court deferred its decision until April 14, partly because the prosecution hadn’t given Jarrar’s lawyers access even to the non-secret evidence against her. As of April 9, her lawyers said, they still hadn’t received the file.