On February 13 at 5 pm Hebron time, Issa Amro, a Palestinian human rights activist, was attacked by an Israeli soldier while giving a tour of his home city to The New Yorker magazine journalist Lawrence Wright.
On February 7, I published an article about the play Amro and Einat Weizman had written — and performed in New York in late January. At that time, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Amro personally.
I was on the street when I saw the first tweets about the incident. Since it occurred, Amro has put out a timeline of events on @IssaAmro. Unfortunately, I don’t think legacy Jewish organizations and the American State Department are following his handle.
Another episode to be buried?
I reached out to Amro to get details on the violent assault. The abuse was shocking. In one of the posted videos, it appears that Amro’s hands were behind his back. The soldier who instigated the confrontation kicked Amro while he was face down on the ground. A woman’s voice screams in English, “Hey! Leave him.”
As Amro’s feed stated:
“The army spokesman lied about what happened. I didn’t go to the soldier military post, the soldier left the post to harass and annoy us, when we filmed him, he wanted us not to leave before we delete the videos. He refused to call or to tell his commander.
I didn’t refuse the treatment from the Israeli army, I called the Israeli police 100, who didn’t come to help me, I asked them for an ambulance, they said to me ARE you Arab or Jew. I told them I am an Arab, they said we can’t reach you. They refused to give me medical aid.”
In one of the videos, Amro can be heard saying, “You are touching my body with your gun. I asked you to bring your commander. You refused…I want to call my lawyer.”
I was able to connect with Amro even though it was in the early morning hours. His voice was hoarse. In response to my questions, he told me:
“I will file a complaint against the soldier for sure. But I am sure that he will not be accountable. I was telling him to stop harassing me or I will file a complaint to the Israeli Court Metsa…but the soldier didn’t care…Soldiers are usually not accountable. According to many Israeli human rights organizations, they don’t open the investigation and they close it.
He told me how he was physically impacted:
“I fall down. I called the Israeli police. I called the Israeli ambulance.Both didn’t come. Palestinian ambulance is not allowed to be there, so I stayed there around forty minutes waiting for an ambulance because I got [in] shock and was really dizzy, and I was in pain and they didn’t care about that at all.At the end I decided to leave because the situation was very dangerous. Settlers started gathering around me and other soldiers were threatening me, so I left.”
One of the videos he shared shows the Israeli soldier on the phone. Amro narrates, “This soldier in Hebron is trying to prevent us from filming the truth, the reality.” As the soldier speaks to someone on a military phone, Amro says, “No. This is not true… Don’t lie. Don’t lie. Say the truth.”
Amro related that his face was smashed into the cement, and his arm was hit badly. When I asked him if he thought anything was broken, he said he would see a specialist the next day.
Wright and a friend of Amro’s helped him to get home.