Urgent Action: Two Palestinian Human Rights Defenders On Trial (Israel/OPT: UA 278/16)

Urgent Action
February 17, 2017
Palestinian human rights defenders Farid al-Atrash and Issa Amro face charges in an Israeli military court relating to their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Both face time in prison if found guilty. At a hearing on 23 November their lawyer asked for a number of the charges to be dropped and the hearing was adjourned until 21 December.
Palestinian residents and activists in the city of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, organized a peaceful protest march on 26 February to mark 22 years since the Israeli authorities first closed al-Shuhada Street in the Old City and to call for the removal of discriminatory restrictions on movement placed on Palestinians in the city.
During the protest, Israeli forces threw sound bombs and fired tear gas at the protesters, and arrested lawyer Farid al-Atrash. They later presented him to a military court in Ofer military base near Ramallah with charges including participating in an illegal demonstration and attacking soldiers. Video footage of the arrest corroborates Farid al-Atrash’s account that he was standing and holding a poster peacefully in front of Israeli soldiers when he was pushed and dragged and then violently arrested by a number of soldiers.
Issa Amro, coordinator of the Youth Against Settlements group, was arrested on 29 February by the Israeli police from the centre he runs in Hebron. Initially arrested for his role in the protest on 26 February, on 7 June he was presented with 18 charges, ranging from “insulting a soldier” to “assault”. Some of the charges date back to 2010. Issa Amro denies all the charges, and alleges that he was beaten by the Israeli police while in custody on two occasions. He has also faced threats and harassment from the Israeli army, police and settlers.
At a hearing on 23 November at Ofer military court, the lawyer for both Issa Amro and Farid al-Atrash asked for a number of the charges to be dropped against Issa Amro because of the age of the charges, and because some of them were from closed police files. The charges against Farid al-Atrash were not discussed. The prosecution asked for time to respond, and the hearing was adjourned until 21 December. Amnesty International believes that the charges against both men are baseless, and are solely related to their work as human rights defenders.
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Calling on the Israeli authorities to immediately drop all the charges against Issa Amro and Farid al-Atrash;
  • Calling on them to put an immediate end to harassment of Issa Amro and other human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
  • Calling on them to immediately investigate Issa Amro’s claims of beatings by the Israeli police, and prosecute those responsible if sufficient evidence is discovered.

Contact these two officials by 31 March, 2017:

Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan St, PO Box 187
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem 91950, Israel
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Ambassador Ron Dermer
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Dr. NW,
Washington DC 20008
T: 202.364.5500
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