Middle East

Jordanians detained by Israel for months freed after diplomatic crisis

Hiba al-Labadi gestures at the King Hussein Bridge border crossing after being released by Israel (6 November 2019) Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hiba al-Labadi spent six weeks on hunger strike in protest against her detention

Two Jordanians whose detention by Israel for months sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries have been freed and transferred to Jordan.

Hiba al-Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri were held after entering the occupied West Bank in August and September.

Israel said it had prevented attacks by Palestinian and Lebanese groups.

Last month, Jordan withdrew its ambassador to Israel in protest at the pair's detention, while Ms Labadi spent six weeks on hunger strike.

Apart from Egypt, Jordan is the only Arab country to have made peace with the Jewish state. However, relations remain delicate.

Ms Labadi, 24, and Mr Miri, 29, were stopped by Israeli border police after passing through the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge crossing, the only land route connecting Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.

They were held under a controversial system known as administrative detention, which allows suspects to be detained without charge or trial for six-month intervals and can be renewed indefinitely.

Israel says administrative detention is necessary for security, but civil liberty groups say the practice is a violation of human rights.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Abdul Rahman Miri and Ms Labadi are reportedly both of Palestinian origin

Ms Labadi and Mr Miri are both of Palestinian origin, according to media reports.

Ms Labadi was on her way to attend a family wedding when she was detained, close relatives said. Her mother said her daughter told her she was subjected to lengthy and harsh interrogation.

Israel's Deputy Defence Minister, Avi Dichter, said on Wednesday that the arrest of Ms Labadi had "thwarted" a planned attack on Israel by the Lebanon-based Shia militant group Hezbollah, and that Mr Miri's arrest had stopped an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

A lawyer for Ms Labadi said his client denied allegations of any links to Hezbollah.

A deal on returning the pair was reached earlier this week and the Israeli prime minister's office said the Jordanian ambassador would return "in the coming days".