Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The West Bank Military Court of Appeals has ordered Palestinian Authority parliament member Khalida Jarrar to remain in detention until the end of her trial on a variety of charges including incitement to kidnap an Israeli.
The ruling has broad implications internationally in relations between Israel and the Palestinians and future close-call cases dealing with accusations against high-profile Palestinians that include classified evidence.
Late Thursday, the court ordered Jarrar’s detention extended until the end of her trial, which begins June 22. The charges all stem from her membership in a group related to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine The case has drawn international attention and criticism because of Jarrar’s status as a Palestinian parliament member and is controversial even within the military court system because of the classified evidence involved and an extended delay by the IDF in deciding when to arrest Jarrar.
Judge Col. Netanel Benishu of the appeals court reversed a rare victory over the military prosecution for Jarrar, represented by defense lawyer Mahmoud Hassan, in the lower Judea Military Court on May 21 in which the court ordered Jarrar released over the prosecution’s objection.
Under the lower court ruling, Judge Maj. Chaim Balilti was not convinced that the classified evidence brought by the prosecution was serious enough to justify keeping her in custody throughout the trial.
This was especially true since the evidence of her alleged offenses dated back to 2009 and accumulated substantially in 2011, with the IDF waiting to arrest her until April 2015.
Hassan also criticized the IDF prosecution for initially placing Jarrar in administrative detention, which can allow indefinite detention without standard judicial proceedings, and claimed that it only brought standard charges against her after the corresponding international outcry.
At each stage of the case, he also complained that the delay of bringing charges against her hampered his defense against the charges and he criticized the use of classified evidence he could not view that the IDF used during the detention hearings.
In contrast, the appeals court found the classified evidence so convincing of both the danger posed by Jarrar’s alleged activities and regarding the IDF’s explanation as to why it delayed arresting her from 2009-2015, that it ordered her remanded to custody until the end of her trial.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that while many of the allegations against Jarrar are lower level charges that might not require detention throughout the trial, not only does one of the charges connect her to incitement to kidnapping an Israeli, but the classified evidence alleges she was involved in “emphatically terrorist conduct.”
The Post also has learned that the IDF’s decision to delay arresting her related in part to her health.
Further, the lower court ruling was of grave concern to the IDF, since many cases, including dozens in which the IDF rearrested Palestinians released as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner-exchange deal, involve the IDF exercising discretion in delaying arresting suspects.
Many cases, at least at the stage of detention hearings, also involve the IDF presenting secret evidence.
Had the appeals court upheld the lower-court ruling, the IDF might have faced a wave of challenges based on issues related to delays in arrests and use of classified evidence.
While the ruling may have satisfied the IDF prosecution, it likely will maintain the international spotlight on the case, with the next hearing set for June 22.