Soldiers assaulted and arrested Issa ‘Amro, a B’Tselem fieldworker, in Hebron yesterday. ‘Amro was arrested while filming a disturbance by settlers in the Wadi Hsein neighborhood in East Hebron.
Yesterday evening (19 January), a group of settlers began throwing stones at a Palestinian home and trying to forcefully enter it. Although a large force of soldiers and police were present, they did nothing to protect the Palestinians and remove the settlers. Two B’Tselem workers were filming the incident from across the street, where they stood along with a number of Palestinians and international activists. The commander of the Shimshon battalion, a lieutenant colonel, came up to ‘Amro and demanded that he stop filming. A group of settler women then gathered around the B’Tselem workers and two of them tried to grab ‘Amro’s camera. A number of soldiers joined in the fray, beat ‘Amro and then arrested him. They then took him to an army jeep and beat him again. Later, B’Tselem was told that ‘Amro was arrested on suspicion of attacking the soldiers.
B’Tselem says it has several video tapes documenting the incident, which prove that ‘Amro was the one assaulted by the soldiers. The organization is preparing to file complaints to the police on the assault and the false arrest.
B’Tselem notes that lately, there has been a rise in assaults by soldiers on B’Tselem workers filming violent settlers in Hebron. The assaulting soldiers usually claim that the act of filming is a provocation in itself. While government and military officials endlessly reiterate the importance of human rights organizations in Israel, this appears to be mere lip service when it comes to the attitude of security forces towards human rights defenders in Hebron. These statements appear to serve as a guise for a policy of systematically harassing human rights defenders.