Imprisoned Palestinian lawmaker forbidden from attending daughter’s funeral by Israel

Photo: Khalida Jarrar, accompanied by Palestinian leader Ayman Odeh, leaving an Israeli prison in 2016. She was re-imprisoned the following year. (Wikimedia Commons)

Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently imprisoned in Israel, was cruelly denied a temporary release to attend the funeral of her daughter yesterday. Suha Jarrar, Khalida’s daughter, was a feminist and climate change activist who briefed the United Nations on the methods that the Israeli government uses to restrict Palestinians’ access to water. She was 31 years old.

Jarrar is a parliamentarian elected as a candidate of the socialist political party the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She is among many members of the PFLP who are imprisoned in Israel for simply belonging to a political organization. As of July 2021, Palestinian human rights organization Addameer counted 4,850 political prisoners held by Israeli authorities. 

In October of 2019, Jarrar was arrested and held under an infamous practice known as administrative detention. People held under administrative detention don’t need to be charged with any crimes but can be imprisoned indefinitely without trial. Authorities are not required to share evidence of wrongdoing with the lawyers of people arrested and held in administrative detention. Prisoners held in administrative detention are effectively “disappeared” without any guarantee that they will receive a trial.

Even if Palestinian political prisoners are granted a trial there is no chance that their trial will be fair and unbiased. Palestinians arrested in the occupied territories are tried in Israeli military courts. In 2010, it was revealed that 99.74% of all the cases heard in military courts resulted in a guilty verdict. 

Israel’s apartheid court system and the administrative detention practiced by Israel (and the United States in places like Guantanamo) is clearly and explicitly illegal under international law. According to Article IX of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” 

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is even more explicit. Article 9 states that, “Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.” Israel and the United States are clearly in gross violation of international law. 

The imprisonment of Khalida Jarrar is an example of the utter cruelty of the U.S. and Israel. Jarrar’s final message to her daughter is printed here in its entirety: 

I am in so much pain, my child, only because I miss you. 

I am in so much pain, my child, only because I miss you. 

From the depths of my agony, I reached out and embraced the sky of our homeland through the window of my prison cell in Damon Prison, Haifa. Worry not, my child. I stand tall, and steadfast, despite the shackles and the jailer. I am a mother in sorrow from yearning to see you one last time. 

This doesn’t happen except in Palestine. All I wanted was to bid my daughter a final farewell, with a kiss on her forehead and to tell her I love her as much as I love Palestine. My daughter, forgive me for not attending the celebration of your life, that I was not beside you during this heartbreaking and final moment. My heart has reached the heights of the sky yearning to see you, to caress and plant a kiss on your forehead through the small window of my prison cell. 

Suha, my precious. They have stripped me from bidding you a final goodbye kiss. I bid you farewell with a flower. Your absence is searingly painful, excruciatingly painful. But I remain steadfast and strong, like the mountains of beloved Palestine. 

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