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Social movements worldwide call for release of Khalida Jarrar, Khitam al-Saafin

July 15, 2017 4:34 P.M. (Updated: July 16, 2017 6:25 P.M.)
Man holds up poster of Khalida Jarrar (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Leftist political parties and social movements from around the world have called for the release of imprisoned activists Khitam al-Saafin, the chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committee, and Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar, after Israel sentenced both women to administrative detention for their leading roleswithin the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Israeli forces detained Jarrar, a long-serving PLC member representing the PFLP, on July 2 after raiding her home in Ramallah in the central West Bank, 13 months after Jarrar was released from Israeli custody on June 3, 2016 after serving more than a year in prison, one month of which was under administrative detention.

Jarrar is also the head of the Prisoners' Commission in the PLC, and vice-chairperson of the board of directors of Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer.

On Wednesday, an Israeli military court sentenced Jarrar to six months of administrative detention.

On the same night Israeli forces detained Jarrar, Khitam al-Saafin was also detained in the village of Beituniya in the central occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities sentenced al-Saafin to three months of administrative detention.

The Israeli army has said both women were detained for their activities within the PFLP, which Israel has designated as a "terrorist" organization.

Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun released a report on Friday stating that several political groups and movements denounced the imprisonment of al-Saafin and Jarrar.

The Communist Party of Spain stated that the detentions were “part of the permanent policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing put into practice by the Israeli regime against the Palestinian people,” adding that Israel’s aim was to “topple the organizations of the struggling, popular, democratic and feminist left.”

The Landless Workers’ Movement, a Brazilian land reform social movement, said that the detentions represented an “attack on the political activity and popular organization of the Palestinian people.”

Samidoun also quoted a statement from Greece's Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers that called Israel’s actions “illegal, inhumane, contrary to international law and constitute parts of a violent policy attempting to impose the occupation indefinitely and diminish the lawful and legitimate Palestinian resistance.”

“The systematic arrests of Palestinian patriots is an integral part of the Zionist policy of occupation and repression, by Israel, against the Palestinian people and those forces, such as the PFLP, which courageously fight for the respect of, and to secure, their legitimate national rights,” the Portuguese Communist Party added.

The PFLP also released a statement and "denounced the Zionist occupation military court’s" decision to sentence Jarrar and al-Saafin to administrative detention "as part of the systematic Zionist crimes against the authentic leadership of the Palestinian people."

The Israeli actions are "an attempt to silence the democratic and revolutionary voices that confront the occupation and reject the approach of the Palestinian Authority and its destructive security coordination," the PFLP said, referring the PA's widely-criticized policy that has been described as a "revolving door" policy of funneling Palestinians from PA jails to Israeli prisons.

The leftist PLO faction insisted that the "systematic and continued targeting" of PFLP leaders "will not succeed in breaking the will or the commitment to resistance. Jarrar and the leaders of the Front remain a thorn in the throat of the occupier and a mark of shame on those who engage in security coordination."

The statement urged the Palestinian people to "escalate the movement in support of the prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons and against the policy of administrative detention and occupation crimes," and called upon supporters of the Palestinian cause, including European parliamentarians, "to engage in a wider campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, especially those in administrative detention and the imprisoned parliamentarians."

At least 10 other groups also released statements demanding the release of the two Palestinian leaders, according to Samidoun.

According to Addameer, there were 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of May, including 56 women, and 490 held in administrative detention.

Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians. The widely condemned Israeli policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
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