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Israel court orders release of prominent Palestinian activist pending investigation

Issa Amro was charged with obstruction after he filmed a soldier assaulting an Israeli activist near the Old City of Hebron
Palestinian human rights activist Issa Amro speaks during an interview in Hebron city in the occupied West Bank, 27 June 2021 (AFP)

An Israeli court on Wednesday ordered the release of prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro, who was detained earlier this week, pending an investigation into his case.

Israeli forces on Monday evening summoned Amro to the Jabara police station, near Kiryat Arba settlement, where he was arrested. 

Amro was detained days after filming a soldier assaulting an Israeli activist during a visit by 15 Israeli anti-occupation activists to meet Palestinian residents near the Old City of Hebron.

The activist's lawyer Riham Nasra said Amro was charged with obstruction and he was set to be released at 6pm local time.

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"He was arrested for obstructing the work of Israeli soldiers, although there is no evidence against him. If he did anything wrong, he would have been arrested immediately on Friday, on the spot," Nasra told Middle East Eye. 

The lawyer said that the Israeli prosecution had asked for the extension of Amro's arrest until next week, but the court ruled for his release, pending an investigation.

"The prosecution asked that he be sent outside Hebron for house arrest and banned from talking to Israeli activists for three months, but without offering any evidence," Nasra said.

"This amounts to a form of punishment and political persecution against him."

Amro, an engineer by profession, is a well-known human rights defender in his hometown of Hebron. He is the founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS), which aims to empower the Palestinian community in the face of Israeli settlers in Hebron's Old City.

The group has become the primary source of information about Israeli settler and military activities in the city, and it regularly organises events to help the local community, such as harvesting olives.

Amro's house also serves as YAS's community centre. The office was forced to close for 12 days in November as the Israeli army announced a military closure on parts of Hebron, including where Amro's house is located, in a move condemned by UN experts.

Earlier in November, an estimated 32,000 Israeli settlers marched through Hebron, assaulting Palestinians and vandalising some of the shops.

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