Lawrence Wright: Never had a source assaulted in front of me

IDF jails soldier for 10 days for assaulting Palestinian activist in Hebron

Video shows serviceman choking Issa Amro, pushing him to the ground, and kicking him during tour of city that included Pulitzer Prize-winning US writer

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

An Israeli soldier is seen assaulting Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist in Hebron, February 13, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)
An Israeli soldier is seen assaulting Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist in Hebron, February 13, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)

An Israeli soldier assaulted a Palestinian activist in the West Bank city of Hebron as the activist was giving a tour to American journalists on Monday, video footage showed. The Israel Defense Forces said the soldier was sentenced to 10 days in a military prison following the incident.

The footage shared by the dovish Breaking the Silence organization showed the activist, Issa Amro, being choked by a soldier who pushed him to the ground, before kicking him.

Another serviceman was seen pulling away the soldier who assaulted Amro.

Amro was giving a tour of the West Bank city to journalists from The New Yorker and was not arrested following the violence, according to Breaking the Silence.

In a statement, the IDF said the incident was “thoroughly” investigated by the soldier’s commanders.

“The investigation found that a violent confrontation erupted between a Palestinian and an IDF soldier in Hebron, during which the soldier beat the Palestinian,” the statement said.

The initial investigation of the incident cited by Kan news said the soldier told Amro he could not pass through the area. Amro filmed the soldier and continued to walk forward. The soldier then told the activist to wait for an officer to show up.

The soldier claimed, according to Kan, that Amro began yelling expletives and hit him. And in response, the soldier pushed Amro to the ground and kicked him.

The IDF said the soldier was to be jailed for ten days, after which, his commanders would decide if he is to be permanently dismissed from combat roles.

“The IDF views any violent behavior with severity, and condemns it,” the statement added.

Among The New Yorker journalists was Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright.

“I never had a source assaulted in front of me until today when an Israeli soldier who stopped my interview did this with a Palestinian peace activist Issa Amro in Hebron. I can’t stop thinking how dehumanizing the occupation is on the young soldiers charged with enforcing it,” Wright said on Twitter.

In November, Amro filmed an Israeli soldier in Hebron taunting him and other activists. A second clip from the same incident showed another soldier assaulting a left-wing activist. Both soldiers were given short jail sentences.

Amro is a prominent activist who lives alongside the Jewish settlement in Hebron.

He is a longtime critic of both Israel and the PA who has faced charges in both Israeli and Palestinian courts. In 2017, Amro spent a week in prison for his criticism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

During a recent remand hearing, a police representative testified against Amro, calling him a provocateur who “creates friction” in Hebron with his tours for Israelis and others in the city.

Amro’s home is often a regular stop for those touring Hebron with the left-wing Breaking the Silence NGO, which seeks to show what it says are the human rights costs of Israel’s military presence in the largely Palestinian city.

The Hebron activist sat down with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken last year during the top diplomat’s meeting with Palestinian civil society leaders in the West Bank.

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