The International Association of Democratic Lawyers condemns in the strongest terms the arrest of Palestinian parliamentarian, leftist and feminist Khalida Jarrar. Jarrar, 56, was arrested by a massive force of Israeli occupation troops in the early hours of 31 October 2019. Over a dozen armed military vehicles and 70 soldiers surrounded her home in Ramallah. On Sunday, 3 November, her detention was extended by an Israeli military court for another eight days.

Jarrar’s detention comes only eight months after she was released from 20 months in Israeli custody, where she was held the entire time without charge or trial under administrative detention. Israeli administrative detention orders may be issued for up to six months at a time. They are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians have spent years at a time jailed under indefinitely renewed administrative detention orders.

Administrative detention orders are issued on the basis of secret evidence, and Palestinian detainees as well as their lawyers are forbidden access to the evidence against them. The primary alternative mechanism by which Israel imprisons Palestinians in the occupied West Bank of Palestine is through its military courts, which exhibit a conviction rate of over 99%. It should be noted that illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank do not face these military courts if they are tried for criminal or “security” offenses; instead, they receive the full protections of the Israeli civil legal system.

Khalida Jarrar is well-known for her leadership and international advocacy for Palestinian political prisoners and Palestinian rights as a whole. As an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, she headed its Prisoners’ Commission. She is the former Executive Director and later Vice-Chair of the board of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. She is a member of the Palestinian National Committee to pursue the investigation and prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

There are currently 460 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention orders out of 5,050 total Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. The arrest of Khalida Jarrar, the imprisonment of over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners and the systematic use of administrative detention for political repression against an occupied population by the Israeli regime violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law, both of which apply to the Palestinian people.

Administrative detention may only be used under international humanitarian law on an individualized, case-by-case basis of “urgent reasons of security.” On the contrary, Israel’s use of administrative detention against the Palestinian civilian population is systematic and routine, serving as a mechanism to give a legal cover to political imprisonment for cases too weak to be brought even before the Israeli military courts. It has been used systematically for decades as a mechanism to arbitrarily detain numerous Palestinians and hold them without charge or trial for years. In addition, Palestinian prisoners, including administrative detainees, are routinely transferred to prisons inside the occupier’s territory, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Israeli practice of administrative detention fundamentally violates and runs afoul of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

By imposing administrative detention on the basis of “secret evidence,” the Israeli occupation regime denies Palestinians their right to a fair hearing and the right to mount any meaningful defense. Therefore, it violates Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees people’s rights to know the reason for their arrest and be free of arbitrary arrest or detention, as well as Article 14, which governs the right to a fair and public trial. Of course, the Israeli military court system also violates the provisions of the ICCPR.

Administrative detainees are also denied the ability to know when their sentence will end, as their detention orders are subjected to indefinite renewal. This inability to plan for the future is in itself a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to psychological torture, as well as a method of collective punishment against the families of Palestinians detained by Israel.

Khalida Jarrar’s re-arrest is a political action by the Israeli occupation, as is the ongoing detention of over 5,050 Palestinian prisoners on “security” grounds, the term used to describe political imprisonment. It reflects the ongoing effort of the Israeli occupation to attempt to legitimize its presence through the criminalization and suppression of Palestinian resistance and the targeting of Palestinian political and community leaders for arrest and imprisonment. The IADL reiterates its position to urge the release of all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees from Israeli prisons as an essential part of any vision for justice in Palestine, which must reflect the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national liberation and to return to their original homes and lands from which they were displaced in 1948.

Jarrar’s case is not alone. The IADL also notes with its strongest condemnation and concern the case of Samer Arbeed. Samer Arbeed was subjected to severe torture and abuse between the date of his arrest on 25 September 2019 by Israeli occupation forces and his admission to Hadassah hospital three days later, in critical condition, with 11 broken ribs and unconscious. Arbeed remained in a coma for weeks. Despite his severe illness, he remained shackled to his hospital bed. He developed pneumonia, which was attributed in a medical report submitted by the hospital to contamination in his medical devices. Reports also indicate that Arbeed was subjected to tear-gassing by occupation forces while shackled to his hospital bed and severely ill.

The torture of Samer Arbeed comes in direct violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which notes that no “exceptional circumstances” may be used to justify torture. The use of torture is a war crime and rises to a crime against humanity when practiced in a systematic matter. To this point, this was not an isolated act nor the individual act of a particular Israeli soldier or interrogator. Reports indicate that Arbeed’s torture was authorized in advance by a “judicial body” in an attempt to extract confessions on himself or others and was escalated when it failed to achieve these ends.

Most recently, Arbeed was transferred on 7 November to the Ramle prison clinic, notorious for medical mistreatment and poor conditions. He continues to suffer from pain and is unable to move his legs; further, he continues to suffer from pneumonia and the after-effects of tear gas used against him while in a closed hospital room. Further, Arbeed’s attorneys at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association have had a gag order imposed upon them that is currently in effect until 7 December 2019, preventing them from disclosing information about detainees they represent despite widespread Israeli official propaganda against these detainees, most of whom are banned from lawyer visits and denied access to counsel.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers:

  1. Demands the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and other Palestinian parliamentarians and political figures detained for their role in advocating for the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.
  2. Demands the immediate release of Samer Arbeed and all other Palestinian prisoners, whose detention is part of a mechanism that aims to “legalize” Israeli occupation and colonization at the expense of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.
  3. Demands an end to the practice of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
  4. Calls for the end of the E.U-Israel Association Agreement and other free trade agreements with the Israeli state that serve to support and legitimize torture, occupation and colonization.
  5. Calls for the end of U.S. aid to Israel, which encompasses $3.8 billion in direct military aid to perpetuate the ongoing occupation of Palestinian and Arab land, including the occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.
  6. Urges the U.N. Secretary General and all U.N. committees and agencies to take all available procedures and steps to bring to an end Israeli apartheid, war crimes and crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine, including the exclusion of the Israeli state from participation in the U.N. General Assembly as well as other committees and bodies.
  7. Demands that the Israeli Ministry of Public Security, including the Israeli police and the “Border Police” in occupied Jerusalem, be excluded from research programs and joint initiatives funded by the European Union.
  8. Stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for national liberation, self-determination, equality and return.

To this end, the IADL will:

  1. Continue its work with Palestinian organizations and human rights advocates to hold Israeli officials accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court.
  2. Participate in the ongoing campaigns to release Palestinian prisoners, including the 8-11 November Days of Action to Free Khalida Jarrar, Samer Arbeed and all Palestinian Prisoners, from Israeli occupation prisons.
  3. Focus on the role of complicit corporations, including G4S and HP, in profiting specifically from their role in enabling the imprisonment of Palestinians, and escalate our role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to achieve Palestinian rights to equality, freedom from occupation and return.