On 6 June, Palestinian activist and human rights defender, Munther Amira, who is the coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), was released from Hadarim Prison in central Israel, after serving six months in prison. He was sentenced to six months in prison, five years of probation and a fine of 2,000 Israeli shekels (around US$ 581) by Ofer Military Court in the occupied West Bank on 12 March.
Munther Amira, aged 48, is a Palestinian refugee from the village of Deir Aban, located south of Jerusalem, and is currently living in Aida Refugee Camp, near Bethlehem. He was arrested by Israeli soldiers on 27 December 2017 while peacefully participating in a protest. The protest was organized by Palestinian residents and activists in Bethlehem, and called for the release of activists Ahed and Nariman Tamimi.
He was originally charged with 13 offences relating to his participation in five separate demonstrations. He was convicted on four counts of “disturbing public order” and participating in a “march without a licence” in relation to four demonstrations that took place in November and December 2017. Some the charges such as “participating in a march without a permit”, which falls under Israeli Military Order 101, should not be considered criminal offences under international standards.
Munther Amira was held inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides that detainees of a population from an occupied territory must be detained within that territory.
On 7 June, Munther Amira spoke to Amnesty International and delivered the following message of appreciation to all those who took action on his behalf:
“I am very grateful for all the support I received while I was in prison. Life in prison was very difficult and I was treated badly, but the support of those who believed in me made me strong. I was sentenced on baseless charges for peacefully protesting against the Israeli occupation, but nothing will stop me from continuing on the same path… We are human rights defenders; our duty is to defend the rights of the Palestinian people. We will not be broken and we will continue with the peaceful struggle for our rights until the occupation ends.’’
He added ‘’It feels very good to be back home and to be able to spend the last days of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr [a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan] with my wife and children.’’