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Palestinian who filmed Hebron soldier taunting activists barred from home for a week

Issa Amro spends 2 days in jail after showing up to interrogation with video evidence on USB instead of his cellphone; police accuse him of causing friction in flashpoint city

In this Sept. 10, 2017 file photo, prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro speaks after his release from Palestinian Authority detention, in the West Bank city of Hebron.  (AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi, File)
In this Sept. 10, 2017 file photo, prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro speaks after his release from Palestinian Authority detention, in the West Bank city of Hebron. (AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi, File)

An Israeli military court on Wednesday barred a Palestinian activist from returning to his neighborhood in Hebron for one week after he recorded a video of a soldier boasting to left-wing activists about how far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir was going to restore order in the flashpoint West Bank city.

Issa Amro, a prominent activist who lives alongside the Jewish settlement in Hebron, filmed the encounter last week that led to the taunting soldier receiving a ten-day military jail sentence. Ben Gvir has ardently protested the punishment, claiming that the soldier had been provoked by the activists, though footage and testimony from a journalist accompanying the activists have not offered proof of that assertion.

On Monday, Amro was summoned to an Israel Police station but arrived with videos from the altercation on a USB drive, rather than his cellphone. He was placed under arrest and charged with obstruction of justice.

He was released on Wednesday evening, but not before a military court signed off on an order barring him from returning to his Tel Rumeidah neighborhood of Hebron for one week.

During his 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, the Haaretz daily reported.

Amro told the court that he has provided video evidence to police for 15 years without anything coming from it. “I submit complaints, but they don’t take me seriously,” he testified.

He proposed having police watch the videos in question on his phone with his lawyer present due to his lack of trust in Israeli authorities.

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.

Amro 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.

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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