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Court in Israel sentences Palestinian politician Khalida Jarrar to two years in prison

The decision comes as Palestinians gear up to vote in long-overdue legislative elections in May
Khalida Jarrar arrives at Israel's Ofer military court during a previous stint in prison in 2015 (AFP)

An Israeli military court sentenced Palestinian politician Khalida Jarrar to two years in prison on Monday for "inciting violence" and belonging to a “banned organisation”.

Jarrar, a prominent political activist and member of the Marxist-Leninist organisation the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was arrested at her home in Ramallah on 31 October 2019, and has since been in detention. 

The court at the Ofer military base northwest of Jerusalem also ordered her to pay a fine of $1,300.

Jarrar, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Palestine's suspended parliament, has been arrested numerous times and done several stints in Israeli administrative detention.

In February 2019, she was released from Israel’s Damon prison, outside Haifa, after 20 months in administrative detention without charge.

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It was an example of a highly controversial Israeli policy - used almost exclusively on Palestinians - that allows for detention without charge or trial for renewable periods of three to six months. Detainees cannot appeal or know what accusations are being levelled against them.

In and out of prison

Jarrar was first arrested in 1989 and held for a month without trial.

For her second detention in 2014, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Jarrar was the head of the PLC's prisoners committee between 2015 and 2017, and was arrested for a third time in 2017.

She was eventually released in February 2019, before being arrested again nine months later.

Her latest sentence comes as Palestinians are gearing up to vote in a legislative election in May, the first of three long-overdue ballots.

It will be the territories' first election since 2006, when Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament, triggering a wave of Israeli arrests of its members. 

Eight elected Palestinian parliamentarians, including Jarrar, are currently in Israelis prisons.

According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, 4,400 Palestinians were being detained by Israel as of January: 37 were women, 160 were children.