August 17, 2023
“The Only Thing That Holds Them Accountable Is a Camera”
By Peter Lucas
After cofounding Youth Against Settlements, Palestinian activist Issa Amro started giving tours of Hebron, allowing participants to see the violence of Israeli occupation firsthand.
When Palestinian activist Issa Amro was assaulted by an IDF officer in February, he wasn’t surprised. It was just another interaction in his decades-long conflict with the Israeli Defense Forces.
Amro, who was born in a section of Hebron now closed to Palestinians, has been speaking out against the occupation for as long as he can remember. After cofounding Youth Against Settlements (YAS) in 2005, Amro started giving tours of Hebron, Palestine to journalists, activists, and anyone else who would listen. YAS began as a way for Amro and other activists to contest the Israeli government’s ongoing closure of Al-Shuhada Street but morphed into a more expansive human rights organization. While it was active, YAS promoted nonviolent resistance to counter the Israeli occupation. It organized the international Annual Open Shuhada Street Demonstrations and weekly protests in Palestine, and was represented as a nongovernmental organization at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Since founding the group, Amro has been frequently targeted by the Israeli government and arrested hundreds of times. During the attack in February, Amro was approached by a soldier who asked him to stop filming, when he refused, he was choked, pushed to the ground, and repeatedly kicked by the soldier. While the Israeli government condemned the assault and sentenced the soldier to 10 days in jail, the international community believes the response has been inadequate.