On November 6th, 2023, an Israeli soldier walked into the yard of Issa Amro's house, which doubles as a community center for nonviolent resistance in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Caught on a security camera, the soldier is seen approaching the front door, reaching up and removing a Go Pro camera from the above the door. Then, he walks over and takes security cameras lying on top a sack of olives. He is seen handing these cameras to a colleague behind the house.
The break-in and theft comes after Issa Amro's sudden eviction on October 20th, where a group of soldier demanded that he leave the house without any notice or written order. Amro has been unable to access the house since, despite his personal belongings being left inside and unfinished work left in his yard. He is now homeless. The eviction itself followed harassment campaigning beginning with Amro's abduction and torture on October 7th.
Sign the petition here to get Issa home.
(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.
(Hebron, West Bank) Today at noon, UN-recognized Palestinian Human Rights Defender Issa Amro was brutally beaten, tortured and detained by Israeli forces near his home in Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Amro was detained and tortured for ten hours in an Israeli army base while being denied access to medical care and communication with his lawyer, who was not told of his whereabouts. No reason was given for his detention. The detention came hours after Israel declared a state of war.
Amro was arrested outside his home in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, Hebron, which also serves as a community center for nonviolent methods of resistance. Mohammad Natsheh, a volunteer with Youth Against Settlements, witnessed the arrest. Less than three hours after reporting the incident, Natsheh similarly disappeared.
“Today, settlers in army uniform prevented me from reaching my house,” Issa Amro stated. “The settlers in their army uniforms jumped on me and arrested me. I was handcuffed very, very tightly and made to sit for hours on a small chair. They blindfolded and even gagged me because I was asking for help. I was kicked and hit many, many times by the soldiers. They rejoiced and tortured other Palestinian detainees in the Israeli military base.”
“Israel is not defending itself,” Issa Amro stated. “It’s occupation, it’s apartheid, it’s Jewish supremacy. I saw that today with the soldiers. They don’t distinguish between anybody. They see us all as their enemy. But we will never give up.”
In February, Amro was filmed being brutally assaulted by an Israeli soldier in front of a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist in a video that garnered more than 16 million views on Twitter. A few months earlier, Israel forces had beaten and arrested Amro for filming a video of a soldier beating up a left-wing Israeli activist.
Issa Amro is a Human Rights Defender recognized by the United Nations, the European Union and the U.S. State Department. He is the founder of the grassroots group Youth Against Settlements and the Executive Director of the American NGO Working for Peace and Justice. In 2016, Amro was indicted by Israel on 18 charges condemned by Amnesty International as “baseless” and “politically-motivated.” A 2017 letter from numerous U.S. Representatives to the Secretary of State encouraged Israel to reconsider the charges. In 2021, Amro met with U.S. Secretary Blinken.
Contact: Issa Amro | +972 59-934-0549 | Email: [email protected]
Issa Amro recounting his torture in Israeli detention. Watch his whole statement here.
In preparation for the Jewish religious holiday Lag Baomer, Israeli settlers broke into Palestinian shops to steal wooden items for burning. Settlers stole wooden decorations from Palestinian stores that have been forced closed by military order. The holiday traditionally involves the lighting of bonfires, however Israeli settlers in Hebron yearly creates these bonfires from stolen Palestinian furniture taken from homes or shops that have been forcefully closed by military order, or left empty due to the Israeli closure policy in the city. The bonfire is then held on streets closed to Palestinians.
Same day, Israeli settlers threw rocks at Palestinian houses and broke windows, and sprayed the houses with water as part of a pattern of harassment and vandalism to pressure people out of their homes to make room for settlement expansion.
Six Palestinian stores in the heart of Hebron's old city and former vegetable market were demolished by an Israeli-manned bulldozer at night. Friends of Hebron believes that the demolition will pave the way for Israeli settlement expansion. The stores have been forcefully closed by Israeli military for nearly three decades for alleged security reasons. The stores were initially forced closed after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994—an act of punishing the Palestinian victims—after which they were briefly reopened and then re-closed in 2000. Around 500 Palestinian shops were similarly forced closed during this time. Another approximately 1000 shops had to close down due to the Israeli practice of creating coercive environments that pressure Palestinian families to leave their homes and owners to abandon their businesses.
This incident violates international and Israeli laws and plays part of an increasingly aggressive and expansionist military presence and settlement strategy in Hebron. It follows the process of forcing closed civilian areas, militarizing and depopulating them, and then allowing Israeli settlements to take them over. The incident also exposes the arbitrariness of Israeli security measures, acting as mere excuses for depopulating Palestinian areas to facilitate settlement expansion.
We had a succesful joint Freedom Iftar & Seder in our Hebron House inspired by the 1969 Freedom Seder of the civil rights movement.
People gathered for an evening against apartheid in our activist center, located directly next to a fanatic illegal settlement & Israeli army base. We served food and drinks and speeches of solidarity and sumud.
The Iftar/Seder celebrated the breaking of the fast at nightfall during Ramadan as well as the celebrations of Passover with people coming together in their joint call for peace and opposition to Israeli apartheid.
Friends of Hebron speaks at Amnesty USA AGM
Saturday March 4th
Friends of Hebron’s advocacy team was represented at the Amnesty International USA Annual General meeting in San Diego, California. They were hosted both in person and virtually by the acclaimed human rights organization at the session: Witness to Apartheid in Palestine and Israel: Observations from the Field.
The room was packed as staffers and members attended the session, including Amnesty USA’s executive director.
Friends of Hebron Executive Director, Human Rights Defender Issa Amro, spoke of the significance of Amnesty’s 2022 report accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid. He spoke of the nature of apartheid in the city of Hebron and the danger of the “Hebronization” of other places within Israel’s 1948 territory as well as the West Bank.
The AGM lasted from March 3rd to 5th.
Press release: Israeli Soldier Assaults Palestinian Human Rights Defender in Front of The New Yorker Correspondent in Viral Video
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Issa Amro | +972 59-934-0549 | [email protected] |
Israeli Soldier Assaults Palestinian Human Rights Defender in Front of The New Yorker Correspondent in Viral Video
(Hebron, Occupied West Bank) On late Monday February 13th, an Israeli soldier assaulted UN-Recognized Human Rights Defender Issa Amro on the closed Shuhada Street in occupied Hebron. The assault, which was caught on camera in a viral video, happened in front of The New Yorker Correspondent Lawrence Wright, who claimed the Israeli military misrepresented the incident.
An Israeli soldier was filmed grabbing Amro by the throat and throwing him violently to the ground, then proceeding to kick him before another soldier intervened. Wright tweeted the video, which went viral. The Israeli army claimed that Amro provoked the incident. In response, Wright wrote: “The IDF is misrepresenting what led to assault on peace activist Issa Amro in Hebron yesterday. The soldier initiated the encounter. Amro did not curse or interfere only asked that he call the commander. Nothing to justify the attack that followed.”
Amro stated that he had been giving a tour to journalist Wright when an Israeli soldier approached them: “The soldier insisted that we delete what we filmed. We tried to leave but the soldier grabbed me and took me inside Shuhada street and kicked me and threatened me. No one came and the soldier refused to call his commander. Suddenly, the soldier choked me with his arm. I said “don’t touch me” and he shoved me violently down to the harsh concrete ground and kicked me. I fell with a lot of pain. I felt dizzy.” Amro stated that he called for an ambulance but received no medical assistance. Two videos leading up to the incident shows the Israeli soldier repeatedly telling Amro to “delete the video” of the tour and shows the soldier grabbing Amro and taking him to Shuhada street, detaining him.
Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tweeted a statement in support of the attacker. In response, Amro stated, “Last time I filmed an Israeli soldier brutally beating up an activist, Israeli media reported that the soldier received large money donations in support of his violence.” Amro stated. “I would not be surprised if this soldier will now receive money too. This is the reality under Ben Gvir’s extremist army.”
The assault is the most recent incident of the bout of attacks against Palestinians and Amro in the wake of the last Israeli elections. Amro has faced threats, beatings and arbitrary detentions since filming an assault of an Israeli activist in late 2022. Issa Amro is the director of the charity Friends of Hebron and the co-founder and former coordinator of the Palestinian community group Youth Against Settlements. Amro is formally recognized as a Human Rights Defender by the UN, EU, and the U.S. State Department.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Akram Natsheh | +970 599 362 208 | Email: [email protected]
International contact: Maya Garner | +1 (202) 925-6479 | Email: [email protected] |
Israeli Forces Arrest UN-Recognized Human Rights Defender Days After Filming Video of Soldier Violence; Israeli Activist Placed Under House Arrest
(Hebron, Occupied West Bank) On Monday, 28th November 2022, Palestinian activist Issa Amro was arrested by Israeli security forces at the police station near Kiryat Arba settlement.
Amro had been summoned to the station on Monday at 11am for an interview subsequent to a video he filmed on the 26th November of an Israeli soldier beating an Israeli activist touring the Old City of Hebron. Another soldier at the scene referenced far-right MK Ben Gvir and stated, “I am the law.” The beaten Israeli activist sustained a broken jaw and was placed under house arrest by Israeli authorities along with two other female activists who had also been touring.
Amro, who remains in Israeli custody, is due to appear in Ofer Military Court on Wednesday, 30th November.
Akram Natsheh, spokesperson for Youth Against Settlements (YAS), stated: “The occupation police notified Issa's family this evening of his arrest. Youth Against Settlements and Issa have recently been exposed to all kinds of attacks, harassment and threats by the Israeli settlers and the occupation army and so we hold the Israeli occupation responsible for the life and safety of Issa Amro.”
Earlier this month the Israeli army enforced a closed military zone (CMZ) on Amro’s home in the ancient Hebron neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, which doubles as the YAS community center. The CMZ order followed Amro’s attempt to file a complaint at the local Israeli police station regarding Israeli settler harassment during the annual olive harvest. Amro and the volunteers of Youth Against Settlements have been physically assaulted several times during this month by settlers and Israeli armed forces. UN Special Rapporteurs issued a letter condemning the attacks and calling for the reopening of Amro’s house.
Issa Amro is the co-founder of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements initiative. In 2010, he was declared “Human Rights Defender of the year in Palestine” by the UN OHCHR and he is formally recognized as such by the European Union. In 2016, Amro was indicted by Israel on 18 charges condemned by Amnesty International as “baseless” and “politically-motivated.” A 2017 letter from numerous U.S. Representatives to the Secretary of State encouraged Israel in to reconsider the charges. Amro was convicted of six of those charges in early 2021, including three counts of “participating in a protest without a permit,” pending appeal. In 2021, Amro met with U.S. Secretary Blinken.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Issa Amro | Youth Against Settlements Coordinator | 059 933 9041 |
September 3, 2017, Hebron, Palestine - For the second time in a week, families in the Salayma
and Ghaith neighborhoods protested a fence surrounding their neighborhoods. Around 100
people, at least half of which were children, held signs and chanted about ending Israel’s
policies of segregation and inequality. Protestors were entirely nonviolent. The Israeli military,
however, responded with aggression, manhandling protesters, including children. B’Tselem field
researcher Raed Abu Ramila, a resident of the Salayma neighborhood, was arrested.
In 2012, Israel placed a fence in the road between the Salayma neighborhood and the Ibrahimi
mosque. The fence divided the road, giving two-thirds for Israeli settlers, and one-third for
Palestinians. In June 2017, the fence was extended to entirely enclose the Salayma and Ghaith
neighborhoods. The around 50 families residing there, are imprisoned inside. A narrow gate
was installed for entry and exit. The gate is locked each night from 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM, or at
the discretion of soldiers.
On August 31, Israeli military central command ordered Hebron settlements to have
independent municipal standing. The order violates the Hebron Protocol signed in in 1997. It
legitimizes Hebron settlements, despite their entire illegality under international law. Hebron is
the only city in the West Bank where settlers reside within the Palestinian city.
Human Rights Defender and Youth Against Settlements director Issa Amro spoke about the
recent decision and the need for protest:
“The decision to upgrade settlers status in Hebron from a small community to an official
municipality is a huge violation. It will cause a lot of suffering for Palestinians. As Palestinians,
we live with no rights and no equality. To imprison and lock in a neighborhood behind a fence,
is inhumane. It must be stood up to. As a people, we are protesting for our rights. We ask the
international community to join us.”
The two protests this week by the Salayma and Ghaith neighborhoods are part of a new
Segregated and Unequal campaign by Youth Against Settlements. The campaign seeks to end
the imprisoning of neighborhoods, the closing of roads to Palestinians and the placement of
signs that change the identity of Hebron’s old city.