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Jordan calls on Israel to release detained woman on hunger strike

Amman says her refusal to eat makes immediate freeing of Heba al-Labadi, held without charge since September on suspected security offense, ‘more urgent’

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

AMMAN — Jordan called on Israel to release a Jordanian woman detained for over a month without trial on security charges.

Heba al-Labadi’s attorney said Wednesday that she was arrested August 20 at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank and has been on a hunger strike since September 26.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said the hunger strike “makes the need for her immediate release more urgent.”

She reportedly arrived at the crossing with family members to attend a wedding in the West Bank, which she has visited several times in the past.

Al-Labadi, 32, who is of Palestinian descent, is being held in “administrative detention,” an Israeli policy that permits detaining people for months without formal charges.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said she was detained “because of suspicion of her involvement in serious security violations,” without elaborating.

Family members claim she has no political involvement and is not an activist for any cause. They allege she has suffered torture at the hands of Israeli authorities.

Illustrative: An Israeli soldier stands at the entrance to the Allenby border crossing, the main border crossing for Palestinians from the West Bank traveling to neighboring Jordan and beyond, Monday, March 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Haaretz reported last week that her arrest is tied to meetings in Lebanon with people affiliated with the Hezbollah terror group. According to the website Mondoweiss, her lawyer has said she only met with a presenter on a radio station owned by the organization.

Al-Labadi launched the hunger strike to protest her arrest and holding conditions, drinking only water, and has lost around 10 kilograms.

Her lawyer says she has been isolated, abused, verbally assaulted and held in brutal conditions. He said interrogators had threatened her that she could be held for years and never allowed to return to Jordan.

Also last week, Channel 12 reported that Jordan’s Foreign Ministry in recent days sent a strongly-worded letter to Israel’s embassy in Amman demanding her immediate release.

Israeli authorities have yet to publicly comment on the allegations.

Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.

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