Two Jordanians held in Israel for months sent home

Heba al-Labadi and Abdel Rahman Miri taken to Allenby crossing; ex-Shin Bet head defends arrests as thwarting terror attacks; no word on return to Tel Aviv of recalled ambassador

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinians hang photos of Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent, during a protest demanding her release in East Jerusalem on Oct. 26, 2019. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)
Palestinians hang photos of Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent, during a protest demanding her release in East Jerusalem on Oct. 26, 2019. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

Two Jordanian nationals held in Israel for a couple of months on suspicion of terror activity were returned to Jordan Wednesday, following an agreement between Jerusalem and Amman to end a diplomatic spat.

A spokesman for the Israel Prisons Service said that its forces handed Heba al-Labadi and Abdel Rahman Miri over to the IDF at the Allenby crossing in the Jordan Valley Wednesday morning ahead of their return to Jordan.

They later crossed into Jordan, where they were embraced by their families.

Labadi thanked King Abdullah II upon her arrival in Jordan.

“Thanks to his majesty, the king. Thanks to the Foreign Ministry. Thanks to the Jordanian people,” she told Al Mamlaka TV, a state-funded channel. “Praise God. I am very happy. Without your support, I would not have achieved my freedom.”

Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, said earlier Wednesday morning that the two would return.

Abdel Rahman Miri, a Jordanian citizen detained by Israel (screenshot)

“Within hours, Heba al-Labadi and Abdel Rahman Miri will be with their families in Jordan,” Safadi said in a tweet.

Labadi and Miri, who are both of Palestinian descent, were arrested a couple of months ago at a border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank and held without charge, sparking a diplomatic row between Jerusalem and Amman.

MK Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet chief, confirmed that the two had returned to Jordan, but said their arrest had thwarted attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas.

Raslan Mahajna, their lawyer, has said they both deny having ties to terror groups.

On Monday, Israel said the agreement to return the two to Amman included the return to Israel of Jordan’s ambassador, Ghassan Majali, who was recalled last week to protest the detention. Amman has not confirmed it will send Majali back.

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, who visited Labadi in prison on Thursday, congratulated the two on Twitter.

Israel detained Labadi, 32, and Miri, 29, at the Allenby crossing on August 20 and September 2, respectively. The Palestinian Authority Prisoners Affairs Commission has said that both of them were held under administrative detention orders, which allows Israel to hold suspects without charge for months at a time.

Israeli activists protest in solidarity with Jordanian Heba al-Labadi (portrait), who is currently in Israeli custody and has been on hunger strike, outside Ofer Prison during her court hearing in the West Bank on October 28, 2019. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Labadi launched a hunger strike to protest her detention, but ended it on Monday after Israel and Jordan announced she would be released.

A spokesman for Israel’s Shin Bet security service said last Wednesday that Labadi and Miri were being held “because of suspicions of their involvement in serious security violations,” without elaborating.

Mahajna said on Monday that Israeli authorities suspect that Labadi was planning to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank on behalf of the Hezbollah terror group to carry out attacks against Israel. He said she firmly denied those suspicions.

Mahajna added that Israeli authorities suspect that Miri was a member of the Hamas terror group. He said Miri denies the accusation.

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