A New Yorker journalist filmed on Monday, 13 February 2023 an Israeli soldier’s assault on prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
In a video posted on Twitter by Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, an Israeli soldier grabs Amro by his jacket and neck and throws him to the ground. He then kicks Amro before being pulled away by another soldier.
“I never had a source assaulted in front of me until today when an Israeli soldier who stopped my interview did this,” Wright tweeted.
“I can’t stop thinking how dehumanizing the occupation is on the young soldiers charged with enforcing it,” he added, which was widely criticized in the comments section of the video.
“If you think it’s dehumanizing to the soldiers, wait till you hear about what it does to Palestinians,” wrote one Middle East scholar.
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. pic.twitter.com/Qrsa1UJsfA
— Lawrence Wright (@lawrence_wright) February 13, 2023
The far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir voiced full support for the soldier, causing an internal Israeli flap.
Israeli soldier guarding a military post claimed that the event began when he asked Amro, who approached the post, to step away.
In response, Wright said on his tweeter feed: “The IDF misrepresented what led to this. The soldier initiated the encounter, Amro did not curse him, [he] only asked to call his commander. Nothing to justify the violent assault that followed.”
The IDF is misrepresenting what led to assault on peace activist Issa Amro in Hebron yesterday. The soldier initiated the encounter. Amro did not curse or interfere only asked that he call the commander. Nothing to justify the attack that followed. pic.twitter.com/2nxCD2jXjc
— Lawrence Wright (@lawrence_wright) February 14, 2023
Amro tweeted several videos of the run-up to the incident, writing: “The army spokesman lied about what happened.”
I didn’t touch the soldier, my hands were behind my back not to give any excuse, @lawrence_wright witnessed that and I have more videos to show.
The video which shows the lies of the army about why I was arrested. pic.twitter.com/BKhgnuC6Ff
— Issa Amro عيسى عمرو ?? (@Issaamro) February 13, 2023
In another post, he said: “I was detained outside the military post, I started shouting to bring the commander out, the soldiers refused to tell him, it was a trap for me by them. The commander came out only after I was beaten and grabbed by the throat and kicked and pushed on the ground.”
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 organizes events to help the local community, such as harvesting olives.
Amro’s house also serves as YAS’s community center. 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.