Issa Amro: “They are trying to put me in jail”

On The Electronic Intifada Podcast: How a new bill would ban US financial support for the torture of Palestinian children detained by Israel; human rights defender Issa Amro talks about what it’s like to be on trial in an Israeli military court.

A bill before the US Congress would ban financial support to the abuse of Palestinian children by the Israeli military.

The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act is the first ever bill to prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children as a condition for US support, according to campaigners.

The bill, introduced by Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota on 14 November, would require the secretary of state to annually certify that no US funds allocated to Israel will have been used to “support military detention, interrogation, abuse or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

The bill marks “a watershed moment,” Brad Parker, an attorney with Defense for Children International - Palestine, told The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

It is a critical time for activists to engage with their elected representatives “in an important conversation about rights,” added Jennifer Bing, an advocate for Palestinian children’s rights who directs the American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East program.

The groups lead the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which aims to end Israel’s military detention and abuse of some 700 children annually.

During a meeting on Capitol Hill, Bing said, one congressional staff member was leafing through the text of the bill “to try to find something in it that would be objectionable … he kept looking and he couldn’t find anything.”

It was a sign of success that this bill was written so airtight, Bing added, “that it can’t be refuted.”

Bing said that while the bill’s introduction is an historic moment, Palestinian children are still being arrested during night raids and are being detained, abused and tortured every day, ignored by the corporate media. “While we’re celebrating that we are seeing movement, the situation is dire,” she explained.

“They are trying to put me in jail”

“They are trying to put me in jail for resisting the occupation peacefully,” human rights defender Issa Amro told The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Amro is the founder and director of Youth Against Settlements, an activism group based in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

“They want to shut [down] my voice, they don’t want me to do anything to help my community or increase the awareness in the international community about the apartheid, about the discrimination, about the segregation in Hebron and all over Palestine,” Amro said.

He was speaking just days after his first trial date in an Israeli military court, under indictment for his protest activities dating back to 2010.

For years, Amro has been on the frontline in the nonviolent defense of his neighborhood against armed and violent Israeli settlers and soldiers who are continuing the colonization of Hebron.

Youth Against Settlements has been organizing regular protests, including the annual Open Shuhada Street campaigns, which mobilize against the ongoing closure of entire sections of the city to Palestinians since 1994, when 29 Palestinians were massacred during prayers by US-born settler Baruch Goldstein.

The Israeli military has leveled 18 charges against Amro for his participation in protests against Israel’s control and segregation policies.

Inside the military courtroom during the first trial date on 5 November, prosecutors claimed that Amro’s chanting, during protests, of “’1, 2, 3, 4, occupation no more’ is provocation, and it’s not allowed” under Israeli military orders, Amro explained.

Farid al-Atrash, a Bethlehem-based lawyer, is also on trial with him, charged with participation in 2016 Open Shuhada Street protests.

Amnesty International has called all of the charges against Amro and al-Atrash “baseless” and in June, dozens of members of the US congress sent letters to the US State Department in support of Amro.

He subsequently visited Washington, where he met Senator Bernie Sanders.

Amro explained that this kind of support from US lawmakers is rare. “The majority of Palestinians don’t have that support,” he explained.

“It’s a good beginning [to have] American politicians and human rights organizations speak loudly against the occupation and to have the courage to talk about human rights violations, because Israel is trying to shut off everybody” who criticizes its policies, he added.

Amro’s and al-Atrash’s next court date is scheduled for 26 December.

Listen to the interviews with Jennifer Bing, Brad Parker and Issa Amro via the media player above.

Original music by Sharif Zakout

Subscribe to The Electronic Intifada Podcast on Apple Podcasts (search for The Electronic Intifada). Support our podcast by rating us and leaving a review.)

Tags

Comments

picture

So typical of what is happening in Palestine today .As long as the US and EU sanction by in-action what the Israelis are doing ,the Israelis will ramp up their brazen criminal behavior .Who will stand up to the oppressive zionists ?

Add new comment

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).