Hunger-striking Jordanian woman in Israeli custody hospitalized for 3rd time

Heba al-Labadi, who is being detained without charge, taken for treatment a day after Amman recalls ambassador over issue

Heba al-Labadi in an undated photo (Courtesy)
Heba al-Labadi in an undated photo (Courtesy)

A hunger-striking Jordanian woman of Palestinian extraction who is being detained in Israel without charges was hospitalized Wednesday for the third time in a week, after Jordan summoned its ambassador over her continued detention and that of another man in Israeli custody.

Heba al-Labadi, who has now been on a hunger strike for 37 days, was taken back to Bnei Zion Hospital in Haifa on Wednesday, after having been hospitalized for treatment and to receive fluids last Thursday and on Monday. She was last released on Tuesday.

Labadi, 32, has been held at the Kishon Prison in northern Israel since her arrest on August 20 at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank “because of suspicion of her involvement in serious security violations,” according to the Shin Bet security service.

She is being held in administrative detention, an Israeli measure that permits detaining people for months without formal charges. Authorities say the measure is used when detailing the charges publicly could endanger the country’s security and expose intelligence assets. They say a judge has reviewed the investigation material and authorized Labadi’s administrative detention.

Last week, Labadi’s attorney Raslan Mahajna told the Haaretz newspaper that her arrest was tied to meetings in Lebanon with people affiliated with the Hezbollah terror group. Mahajna said that when visiting her sister in Beirut recently, Labadi met with a news reader on the Al-Nour radio station, a Hezbollah media outlet.

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

Haaretz said Israeli officials believe Labadi was sent to the West Bank to recruit Hezbollah operatives.

Labadi has denied the allegations against her. Family members claim she isn’t a political activist, and say she was tortured by the Shin Bet during her interrogation.

According to Mahajna, Labadi has been isolated, abused, verbally assaulted and held in brutal conditions. He alleged that Shin Bet interrogators have attempted to intimidate his client with threats of a long prison sentence and never being allowed to return home.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced late Tuesday that the Hashemite Kingdom had decided to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s ongoing detention of Labadi and fellow Jordanian Abdul Rahman Miri, 29, who was detained at the Allenby crossing on September 2.

Safadi’s statement was a further indication of the tense state of relations between Israel and Jordan, which marked the 25th anniversary of the signing their landmark peace agreement last weekend.

“In light of Israel’s failure to heed our demands for months that it free Jordanian citizens Heba al-Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri and their continued detention in an illegal and inhumane way, we have summoned the Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultations,” Safadi tweeted on Tuesday.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi during a joint conference with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in the Jordanian capital Amman on January 6, 2018. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

“We hold Israel completely responsible for the lives of our citizens and we will continue to undertake legal, diplomatic and political measures to guarantee their safe return home,” he said. “Putting the lives of our citizens, whose health conditions are deteriorating, at risk is a condemned act that the kingdom rejects.”

Jordan’s ambassador to Israel is Ghassan Majali, who has largely stayed out of the public eye since arriving in October 2018.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was checking the Jordanian announcement with authorities in Amman.

Also on Tuesday, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufyan Qudah said that Jordan arrested an Israeli citizen who he said “illegally” crossed into the kingdom.

Qudah added that Jordanian authorities were interrogating the Israeli before transferring him to “the relevant legal parties to take the necessary legal measures against him.”

He did not provide details on the identity of the Israeli, who he said was in Jordanian custody.

The IDF confirmed that an Israeli citizen had crossed the border and said the incident was being investigated. It provided no further details.

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