Saturday, 10 September 2016

Israel indicts Palestinian Ghandi, Issa Amro

The Israeli army has laid a lengthy list of charges against Issa Amro, the longtime Palestinian activist and organizer in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.Issa  is a prominent human rights defender and founding member of many non-violent organisations in Hebron who work peacefully against Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Amongst these organisations include the the Hebron branch of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM),  and Youth Against Settlements, which Issa, aged 36 is a founder a group that organizes non violent demonstrations and direct actions against the violent settler encampments that are protected by heavily armed soldiers who frequently harass Palestinian residents in the city.
Every year, Youth Against Settlements organizes a week of activities calling to open Shuhada Street.
Once the city’s main commercial strip, Shuhada Street was closed off to Palestinians in 1994.Issa  inspired by the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and that of  Martin Luther King, founded Youth Against Settlements in 2007, advocating civil disobedience and non-violent and pro-active measures to document and protest against the Israeli occupation in Hebron and the West Bank. He  also organizes nonviolent demonstrations to resist settlement expansion and the confiscation of land.
On  26 February 2016 a non-violent protest took place in Hebron, calling to re-open Hebron's Shuhada street, lift the closed military zone in Hebron and put an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine. Although the protest was totally peaceful and no stones were thrown, it was met from the outset with excessive violence from the side of the Israeli army, which  fired rounds of tear gas, stun grenades, and runner coated steel bullets against the demonstrators. Two participants, the lawyer Farid Al Atrash and journalist Mohammad Jardat got arrested. The lawyer Farid Al-Altrash was holding a sign reading ' Free Palestine' when he was arrested and beaten before being taken to the Jaabara police station in the Kiryat Arba settlement.

 Israeli soldiers and Border police attack journalists during Hebron protest 

From the outset of the protest it was clear that the Israeli armies main target was Issa Amro. For the first time since he started his human rights activities the Israeli civil administration had given the direct order to arrest him. At first rubber bullets were shot against him, then a sniper aimed at him, he quickly left the protest in fear of being shot.
 On Monday 29 February 2016, three days after the protest, Issa passed through checkpoint 56 to meet an Israeli group from Breaking the silence, a link to their website is  here :-
However the group  was also facing problems. Although they had a special permit to access Issa's house, the army refused to let them in, so the meeting needed to be held outside. While Issa was responding to questions from the group, soldiers came to arrest him.
Arrriving at the police station the investigator accused him of Facebook incitement and organising an illegal protest. The investigator accused him of being the main organizer of the Friday 26 protest and that he had disturbed soldiers on duty and escaped when they tried to arrest him. Je denied all the accusations, but the investigator continued to show him social media pictures from 2012, 2013, and 2014, all of which showed nonviolent events, such as the Olive harvest, the Open Shudada Strret campaign, and a recent art event. One police officer even told him, that they did not legally hold anything against him, but that there were orders from above to arrest him.
The subsequent trial against him  and of Farid Al- Atrassh is clearly aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities. Their treatment as well as the accusations against them ,lack any foundation and Israel is clearly misusing its military court system to restrict  the fundamental basic rights of human rights defenders, including the right of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Issa is not a criminal but a human rights defender who uses principles of non-violence that can only be commended. He and  all other  human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories I believe should be able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, including through the exercise of their right to free assembly, without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.  
 Amro is one of dozens of leaders across the West Bank and East Jerusalem who are using nonviolent tactics, civil disobedience, and direct action to challenge Israel's occupation. The work of these activists has gone nearly unrecognized, with most of the international media attention focusing on rockets launched from Gaza , but for years he and others have been working to instill the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience in the hearts of Hebron's Palestinian youth, even if no one is watching.
His military trial will begin on September 25th

Read more here, the original source of much of  information contained above :-

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