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Israel bars jailed senior PFLP member from attending her daughter’s funeral

Khalida Jarrar, in prison for membership in a terror group, is told she won’t be let out for burial of 31-year-old daughter who died of heart attack; Joint List MK: ‘A disgrace’

Suha Jarrar (L) greets her mother  Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) after she was released from 20 months of detention in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 28, 2019 (STR/Flash9)
Suha Jarrar (L) greets her mother Khalida Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) after she was released from 20 months of detention in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 28, 2019 (STR/Flash9)

The Israel Prisons Service announced on Monday that it would not allow Khalida Jarrar, a jailed senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, to attend her daughter’s funeral.

Jarrar’s daughter Suha, 31, a well-known Palestinian rights activist, died suddenly of a heart attack in Ramallah on Monday. Suha worked for the Palestinian rights group al-Haq, and had researched the environmental impact of Israeli military rule.

Rights groups, as well as Arab Israeli lawmakers Aida Touma-Sliman and Osama Saadi from the Joint List party, had asked Public Security Minister Omer Barlev to grant Jarrar a furlough to attend her daughter’s funeral. A small cluster of demonstrators also protested for Jarrar’s release outside the Ofer military court on Tuesday evening.

But in a letter to Barlev, an IPS official wrote that they lacked the ability to free Jarrar, as she had been convicted in March of membership in the PFLP terror group for the second time. While Jarrar has not been herself convicted of involvement in terror activities, the PFLP has conducted numerous attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians over the years.

“The prisoner is classified as a security prisoner,” the letter read. “Therefore, her request does not meet the threshold conditions that allow this consideration and as a result, it is not within the authority of officials, including the [prisons] commissioner, to grant this request.”

The letter noted that Jarrar would be permitted to have a phone call.

Former Palestinian Authority lawmaker Khalida Jarrar speaks to reporters in her hometown, the West Bank city of Ramallah, following her release from an Israeli jail on February 28, 2019. (STR/Flash90)

Saadi, who handles prisoners’ affairs for the Joint List, deemed the situation “shameful and disgraceful.”

“When you are a Palestinian political prisoner, then the ‘enlightened’ occupation prohibits the basic right to mourn and accompany your daughter on her final journey,” Saadi said in a statement. “It is shameful and disgraceful — on the matter of political prisoners, there is no difference between [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Foreign Minister Yair] Lapid’s government and that of [predecessor Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

Joint List MK Osama Saadi attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, July 5, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The funeral is set to take place on Tuesday afternoon, as Jarrar’s family had been waiting to see if a furlough would be granted before carrying out the burial. Official Palestinian Authority television was set to broadcast the funeral live.

Khalida Jarrar was sentenced in March to two years in prison after being held in an Israeli jail for more than a year without charges.

“The Judea Military Court convicted Khalida Jarrar, by her own confession, of the offense of holding office in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from 2016 until her arrest in 2019,” the army said in a statement at the time.

Jarrar had been arrested along with dozens of other PFLP members in October 2019 after a terror attack by the organization killed Rina Shnerb, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, close to the West Bank settlement of Dolev.

Rina Shnerb, 17, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank on August 23, 2019 (courtesy)

The attack had allegedly been planned and carried out by several members of the PFLP, who were later arrested by Israeli forces. In a wave of mass arrests following the murder, Israel detained dozens of PFLP activists, including Jarrar.

Military prosecutors said that not enough evidence had been found to convict Jarrar of her involvement in the PFLP’s armed activities.

Jarrar received two years in jail as part of a plea bargain. As she was first detained over a year prior to the sentencing, however, she is only serving about eight months and is set for release around October. She was also ordered to pay a NIS 4,000 ($1,210) fine.

Israel, the United States, and the European Union consider the PFLP, one of several member parties of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a terrorist organization.

The PFLP’s armed wing, the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, carried out suicide bombings against Israeli soldiers and civilians during the Second Intifada, and has continued to sporadically attack Israelis since.

Jarrar was elected in 2006 to the Palestinian legislature as a PFLP representative. She has long been a well-known PFLP politician, focusing on women’s rights and the affairs of prisoners in Israeli jails.

Senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Khalida Jarrar, sitting at the Ofer Military Court near Ramallah on May 21, 2015. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Before her plea bargain, Jarrar had been held for over a year without trial in Israeli prison under a rule known as administrative detention. The procedure, which is primarily used with Palestinians, enables Israeli security forces to detain suspects for months at a time without issuing an indictment.

Israeli security officials have defended the measure, arguing that issuing an indictment could force them to reveal sensitive security information. Palestinians and international rights groups, however, have criticized it, contending that Israel abuses it.

Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar is greeted by supporters near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, June 3, 2016. (Majdi Mohammed/ AP)

Jarrar is also a well-known campaigner on behalf of Palestinian prisoners. She directed the Palestinian prisoners’ legal assistance nonprofit, Addameer, from 1994 to 2006, when she was elected to the PA legislature.

She has spent several periods in Israeli jail, some in administrative detention. She did a stint in prison in 2015 and 2016 after an Israeli military court convicted her of incitement to violence and “promoting terror activities.” She has denied those charges.

The parliamentarian also spent 19 months in Israeli prison between 2017 and 2019, when she was accused of “involvement with terrorist activities and violent public disturbances” but was never formally charged.

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