The United Nations is calling on Israel to drop charges against a Palestinian human rights defender who has worked extensively in Hebron - the Old City in the occupied West Bank which has just been listed as a Palestinian heritage site by the U.N's cultural body, angering the Israeli government.
Issa Amro, the founder of Youth Against Settlements has campaigned against Israel's military’s shut-down of the once-thriving Palestinian neighborhood around Shuhada Street in Hebron, as well as against illegal Israeli settlements in and near the city.
His group's activities have included running a community centre, organizing protest marches and opposing the many restrictions placed by the military on daily Palestinian life.
Israeli authorities accuse him of insulting a soldier, assault and demonstrating without a permit.
Two U.N. independent experts said Israel should carefully reconsider the charges which date back a number of years and have only recently been reactivated.
“On the information available to us, many of the charges against Mr. Amro appear to be directed squarely at his lawful right to peacefully protest against the 50-year-old Israeli occupation,” said the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, in a joint statement.
My trial in the Israeli military court is on 9-7-2017 , I am much stronger with your support . pic.twitter.com/CZ0uZOmxKd— Issa Amro عيسى عمرو (@Issaamro) July 3, 2017
Amro is due to go on trial on Sunday.
The UN experts also raised concerns about the Israeli military court system, and whether it meets international standards of due process required under international human rights and humanitarian law.
The system, which all Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to, has a conviction rate of over 99 percent.
UNESCO’s ruling on Hebron prompted anger from Israel, with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it "another delusional decision".
Netanyahu also ordered the US$1 million funds allocate for the organization to be diverted to build a museum and other projects featuring Jewish heritage in the Old City.
While, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the city's new status as a “success … under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying Power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion.”