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Activists up in arms over Jordanians detained in Israel

By Rana Husseini - Oct 31,2019 - Last updated at Oct 31,2019

AMMAN — The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announced that the Jordanian Ambassador to Tel Aviv has arrived in Jordan to discuss Israel's prolonged detention of Jordanians Heba Labadi and Abdulrahman Meri.

The ambassador was recalled in protest against the detention of Labadi and Meri.

“The ambassador was summoned to discuss the illegal and inhumane detention of our two Jordanian citizens and Israel’s delay in replying to the Kingdom’s request for the immediate release of Labadi and Meri,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.

The ministry said that the charge d'affaires at the Jordanian embassy in Israel paid a visit to Labadi to check on her well-being, adding that this was the fifth visit since her arrest.

“The charge d'affaires followed up on Labadi’s health, showed his support, and inquired about her needs until her release,” the statement said.

The statement stressed that the ministry “will continue to demand her immediate release and holds the Israeli authorities responsible for the safety of both prisoners”.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that since Israel has failed to meet the ministry's repeated demands for the release of Labadi and Meri, and continued their illegal and inhumane detainment, the ministry has recalled the Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv for discussion, "as a first step", according to the statement.

"We hold Israel fully accountable for the lives of our citizens and will continue taking all available legal, political and diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home," Safadi added.  

Meanwhile, a popular movement that was initiated by organisations and activists in recent days to call on the government to pressure Israel to release the two detainees launched a social media campaign late on Tuesday night. 

One of the members and organisers of the social media campaign, Hania Barqawi, said: “We decided to launch an electronic campaign to pressure our government to take serious action to ensure that its citizens are protected and to take the necessary measures to secure the release of Labadi, Meri and all Jordanian detainees in the occupation’s detentions.” 

Barqawi told The Jordan Times that the campaign’s hashtag reached number one in Arabic and number three in English.

Twitter user Wajd Sh tweeted: “We have to convey the voices of Hiba and Abdulrahman to the world, which views Israeli occupation as the oasis of democracy in the region”.

Reem Abdel Khaleq also tweeted: “We must all show solidarity with Hiba and Abdulrahman and stand by their side until they obtain their freedom.”

The campaigners said in a statement that Labadi’s hunger strike has reached its 35th day, “despite her deteriorating health, for which she was forcibly hospitalised twice in the past week”. 

The occupation court has failed to press charges against her, the statement added.

Israel also continues to detain Meri, according to the campaigners, who “is a cancer patient for nine years at the King Hussein Cancer Centre”. 

“Abdulrahman’s arbitrary detention is based on mere suspicion, and his trials are conducted in secret,” the statement charged.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced that authorities have arrested an Israeli citizen who had infiltrated the Kingdom through its northern borders.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Sufian Qudah said the Israeli citizen is currently undergoing questioning, noting that he will be referred to the concerned authorities for the necessary legal action, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

The National Committee for Prisoners in Israel issued a statement stating that they have followed up on news of the arrest of an Israeli man who reportedly infiltrated the Jordanian border.

“We urge the government, in light of Israel’s stubborn refusal to release Labadi and Meri, to ensure that he is not released until the government makes sure that our detainees are released,” the committee’s statement said. 

Several deputies also urged the government to refrain from handing over the Israeli citizen to his government until Labadi and Meri are released.

“We call on the government not to release the Israeli citizen who was caught infiltrating the Kingdom until our two detained citizens are back home safely,” Deputy Qais Zayadin (Amman, 3rd District) wrote on his Facebook page.

MP Khalil Atieh called for the release of all Jordanians who are incarcerated in Israeli prisons.

Upon learning of her six-month detention, Labadi went on a hunger strike to protest the ruling. 

"Hiba was taken to hospital twice this week. She spent three days there; she cannot drink water now and throws up if she tries to, due to a sore throat that is also affecting her chest," Fadi Farah, spokesperson of the committee for prisoners in Israel, told The Jordan Times on Tuesday. 

"Her condition might lead to a heart problem, as her heart muscle has become so weak," Farah added.

In regards to Meri, Farah said that his situation is “not easy”, as he needs continuous medical supervision, since he has been a cancer patient for nine years. 

This supervision has been “intentionally ignored” in Israeli prisons, he said.

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