Prominent Palestinian Activist Arrested Over Facebook Post Slamming PA Crackdown on Journalists

Issa Amro, a Hebron-based social activist and the founder of Youth Against the Settlements, earlier criticized Palestinian security forces for arresting a journalist who called for Mahmoud Abbas to resign

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File photo: Palestinian activist Issa Amro in Hebron.
File photo: Palestinian activist Issa Amro in Hebron.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The Palestinian Preventive Security Forces on Monday arrested Issa Amro, a Hebron-based social activist and the founder of Youth Against the Settlements, his brother confirmed to Haaretz.

The brother, Ahmed Amro, said he believes Issa was arrested because of a Facebook post in which he criticized the Palestinian security forces for the arrest of journalist Ayman Qawasmeh, who called for President Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

According to Ahmed, on Sunday evening members of the Palestinian security force came to Issa's home, but he wasn't there. One of the officers called him on the phone and said, "Come to us for coffee." On Monday morning, Amro went to the security force's headquarters in Hebron, but never returned. Family friends serving in the Preventive Security force said the plan was to transfer Amro to a jail in Jericho.

On Sunday, the Palestinian forces arrested Qawasmeh, chairman of the board of Minbar Al-Hurriya radio, which the Israel Defense Forces shut down over the weekend on grounds of incitement. According to reports on Palestinian websites, he was arrested on the orders of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Qawasmeh was arrested after he wrote a post on Facebook demanding the resignation of Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah because they could not protect what he called Palestinian institution in the heart of Hebron.

Issa Amro's Facebook post:

After Qawasmeh was arrested, Amro wrote on his Facebook timeline: "The Preventive Security Services in Hebron carried out orders [given] from above with the arrest of the director of Minbar al-Huriyya radio, our brother the journalist Ayman Naim al-Qawasmeh, 'Abu Jihad.' According to information from the Minbar al-Huriyya news service, brother Abu Jihad was summoned today in the afternoon and has yet to return home.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a Palestinian cabinet meeting in Ramallah, July 28, 2013.Credit: © POOL New / Reuters/REUTERS

"Yes to freedom of opinion and expression.

"We are living in a quasi-state, and it must respect the freedom of opinion and expression, that's what its international commitments require. It must defend freedom of opinion and expression."

Amro, an engineer by profession, was identified with Fatah but in recent years had been openly critical of the PA's conduct.

Amro is also facing a trial with the Israel military at the Ofer Military Court for the popular campaign he has led for several years to remove the IDF and settlers from Hebron. The indictment the military prosecution filed against him last year contained 18 alleged violations. They all were from before 2013 and had all been investigated long ago, including participating in demonstrations, verbal confrontations with soldiers, spitting at a settler and pushing the chief security officer of Kiryat Arba, the settlement adjacent to Hebron.

Amro has close ties with both local and foreign supporters of a nonviolent struggle against Israel, who are closely following his trial at the Israeli military court.

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