Last Sunday was the start of Issa Amro's trial in Ofer military court. As many of you expressed deep concern, we want to give you an update. The trial began around 2pm. A soldier and his commander were called to testify for the prosecution. Their testimony focused on the charges against Issa and Palestinian lawyer Farid al-Atrash related for the 2016 Open Shuhada Street annual protest. The solider and his commander testified that Issa chanted "1, 2, 3, 4, occupation no more" and that this was a call to violence. The commander admitted that the language of the chant itself was not problematic, but that it was part of an atmosphere of violence and that you had to be there to feel that.
The witnesses' testimonies were inconsistent with statements they gave in 2016. The soldier testified that other protesters, though not including Issa or Farid, threw stones at the soldiers. However, Issa's attorney, Gabby Lasky introduced a video that directly refuted this claim. The military commander testified that soldiers tried to approach Issa to arrest him but Issa ran. However, on the day of Issa's arrest in 2016, the same commander had stated that by the time they had decided to arrest Issa, Issa had already left the area (in compliance with the military order to disperse).
Issa's attorney, Gaby Lasky, spoke outside the courtroom: “After hearing both witnesses, it is clear that the defendants’ right to freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration were infringed by the Israeli army and police. It seems that the indictment and court procedures are the way of the occupation to silence nonviolent demonstrators calling peacefully to open Shuhada street in Hebron, by criminalizing their acts.”
Issa spoke about what the court experience was like for him: “It is a kangaroo court system where there is no justice at all. The charges against me are an effort to shut down my human rights work and stop me from speaking up for my people.”
Present in the courtroom were two representatives from the US, UK, EU, Germany, Sweden, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the UN, and more.
The next dates of Issa trial are scheduled for October 22, 24, 29 and November 5.
Issa feels that the support of people across the world is what gives him hope and the strength to carry on. If you can, please make a donation to support Issa and Youth Against Settlements.
Working for Peace and Justice,
Ahmad, Akram, Ariel, Issa, Maya, Muhanned, Murad, and everyone at Youth Against Settlements
From: Youth Against Settlements