A Kafkaesque Perversion of Military Law: Khalida Jarar Must Be Released Now

What’s the point of a military justice system if a court decision to release an accused is met with a threat by the prosecution to hold her without trial?

Khalida Jarrar.
Khalida Jarrar. AFP

The continued incarceration of Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar becomes increasingly outrageous. Here is a synopsis of this Kafkaesque occupation farce: The Israel Defense Forces tried to exile Jarrar to Jericho for six months because of her political activities in the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Jarrar refused to recognize the authority of the military order or obey it.

After essentially canceling the order, the IDF decided to take revenge on Jarrar and ordered her held in administrative detention for six months without charges or trial. When the arbitrary arrest of the Palestinian elected official attracted protest from overseas, the Military Advocate General’s office decided to press charges against her.

The 12 counts in the indictment, as published by Gideon Levy in Haaretz, are nearly all hollow and ridiculous. They accuse her of activism on behalf of Palestinian prisoners, visiting the homes of prisoners who were released from Israeli prisons, giving speeches against the occupation, calling for the release of Popular Front leader Ahmed Sa’adat from prison, and even attending a book fair.

In one section the IDF accuses Jarrar of calling for soldiers to be kidnapped to facilitate the release of prisoners, but the testimony by the prosecution witness to this count is not unequivocal. In any case, this weak indictment does not justify her being held in jail.

Some 10 days ago a military judge agreed to release Jarrar on bail. But the military prosecution appealed, and the court accepted the appeal and ordered Jarrar held until the end of legal proceedings. This occurred after the prosecution threatened to return her to administrative detention if the court released her.

Before the hearing, Jarrar said, “They want to silence us, but we will continue the struggle against the oppression until we achieve our freedom.” Her trial is scheduled to begin this week.

Jarrar, who has been behind bars for two months, is a legitimate parliamentarian chosen in a democratic election. She has a clean security record and her trial looks like an attempt to punish her for her political activity. What’s the point of a military justice system if a court decision to release an accused is met with a threat by the prosecution to hold her without trial? The whole indictment against Jarrar should be thrown out, but in any case she should be released from custody immediately.