Palestinian Activist Issa Amro Claims Political Persecution After Indictment Over Offenses Dating From 2013

Military prosecutors charged Issa Amro with 18 offenses, including spitting at a settler and insulting soldiers. Most of the indictments related to incidents that took place three years ago.

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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An IDF soldier guarding the Jewish settlement in Hebron.
An IDF soldier guarding the Jewish settlement in Hebron. Credit: Reuters
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

The indictment of a Palestinian from Hebron for a range of offences, most of which occurred three years ago, constitutes political persecution and is intended to stop his activism, his attorney says.

Army prosecutors recently issued an unusually broad indictment against Issa Amro, including spitting at a settler, obstructing soldiers and insulting them, and entering closed military zones. However, two of the 18 charges have already been dropped by the police.

Most of the charges involve alleged offenses committed in 2013. The two charges dropped by the police — including the obstruction charge — were closed because they were deemed not in the public interest.

According to the indictment, Amro argued with soldiers who took his identity card and did not return it to him when he sought to leave the scene. The indictment states that when a soldier declined to return his identity card, Amro began to shout. When he then turned to leave, the soldier said he would be arrested if he left.

“The accused replied that [the soldier] could not arrest him and called him stupid,” the indictment stated. It added that when a member of the Border Police came to take Amro into custody, Amro said, “Who do you think you are? You can’t detain me.”

According to the indictment, Amro refused to sit on a chair in the waiting area at the police station, and “threw himself on the floor and started shouting that they [police officers] had struck him.”

Amro is accused of entering a closed military zone after he entered premises known as the Valero House in Hebron, “which belongs to the government and is used for security purposes,” according to the indictment.

The charge of illegal demonstration relates to Amro barricading himself in a building in Hebron, where he “led a group of dozens of protesters wearing masks depicting U.S. President [Barack] Obama, wearing shirts with the words ‘I have a dream,’ and carrying PLO flags and photographs of prisoners.”

In addition to the accusation of spitting at a settler, Amro was also indicted for destruction of property after he smashed a settler’s camera lens.

“They closed all the cases I was framed for in the past,” Amro told Haaretz. “I don’t think somebody can claim that my political activity is criminal. The court always lets me go when they arrest me for no reason.

“I spread a lot of video footage that embarrasses” the authorities, Amro said, adding, “They don’t want moderate Palestinians here who talk to diplomats about a two-state solution.”

Attorney Gabi Lasky, who is representing Amro, said: “Usually, the military justice system is efficient. The moment there’s a person in custody, they complete the investigation and serve an indictment. The fact that in this case he was released dozens of times over the years without any indictment, and suddenly an indictment is served that collects all the conduct for which he was released, absolutely seems to be a matter of political persecution.”

The IDF military spokesman’s office said, “Over a number of years, the accused has committed many offenses, among them taking part in disturbances, assaulting soldiers, incitement and obstructing soldiers in their duties. After evidence of these offenses was collected, the indictment was served.”

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