(Hebron, West Bank) On Friday afternoon, Israeli forces evicted UN-recognized Human Rights Defender Issa Amro from his home in occupied Hebron. A group of soldiers showed up at Amro’s home in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and demanded that he leave along with Yehuda Shaul from Breaking the Silence and an Australian journalist. The soldiers did not present a written order of eviction. Both visitors were permitted by law to be in the area. Amro’s home doubles as the center for the direct action group Youth Against Settlements.
“I was thrown out of my home for no good reason,” Amro stated. “I am being targeted as a Human Rights Defender. Israeli settlers have long wanted to take over my house, and the occupation wants to ban me from the area as part of their quiet transfer policy. Evicting me is against Israel’s own laws.” Amro described experiencing fever and shock since the eviction. He is uncertain where to go. “This is my home,” he stated. “I even have a cat with three young kittens. How will I feed them?”
The eviction comes after Israeli soldiers raided Amro’s yard four times over the course of one week and stole a sign with the text “Free Palestine.” On Sunday, Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian factory building, closed by military order for more than twenty years. On October 7th, Amro was abducted and tortured for ten hours by Israeli soldiers and settlers in army uniform. Israeli forces have imposed a strict curfew on Palestinian residents in Hebron since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas.
Amro’s house also serves as the media center for Youth Against Settlements (YAS), a Hebron-based grassroots group for nonviolent community resistance. The house is located a few meters from an Israeli settlement and army base. Israeli soldiers had shut down the house, using it as a military outpost and prevented the Palestinian owner from accessing it in the early 2000s. In 2006, Israeli settlers began an illegal process of turning it into a new settlement unit. In response, Amro rented the house from the Palestinian owner and undertook six months of sit-in protests, media attention and legal action until the house was finally turned back to Palestinian use and became Amro’s own home. In 2015, Israeli forces closed the house for six months until YAS successfully campaigned to reopen it.
Issa Amro is formally recognized as a Human Rights Defender by the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and the United Nations. Hebron has Israeli settlements located in its center protected by Israeli soldiers. The resulting military closures and coercive environment have led to more than streets, markets, 1000 apartment units and 1800 stores closed.