Trial of the founder of al-Khalil (Hebron)-based Youth Against Settlements campaign group, Issa Amro, began at the Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank on Sunday. The trial of the 37-year-old activist was adjourned until October 22 after two witnesses testified.
An Israeli military spokesman has said evidence would be presented that Amro had “taken part in riots, attacks on soldiers, calls to violence, and prevented security forces from doing their work.” Two soldiers took the stand on Sunday and testified about a demonstration on February 26, 2016.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Amro called the trial a “joke” and said he had no trust that Israel’s military justice system would treat him fairly.
His lawyer Gaby Lasky also said that the “Israeli military cannot stop non-violent demonstrations with weapons, so they’re doing it through criminalization of … freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration.”
“I think we proved it wasn’t an illegal demonstration and it was not a violent demonstration, and incitement is not carrying slogans” critical of Israel’s occupation, Lasky added.
Britain-based rights group Amnesty International has said the charges against Amro do not “stand up to any scrutiny.”
“If he is convicted, we will consider Issa Amro a prisoner of conscience,” Amnesty said previously.
In June 2016, Amro was charged with 18 counts, some dating back to 2010.
The Israeli military claims that Amro had “taken part in riots, attacks on soldiers, calls to violence, and prevented security forces from doing their work.”
Amro denies ever using violence against Israeli forces.
He has stressed that his trial is a political decision by the Tel Aviv regime to target his human rights work.
In December last year, the United Nations denounced daily violations of human rights and international law by the Israeli regime in the occupied Palestinian territories, warning of an increase in the arbitrary detention of Palestinian rights activists.
UN experts further pointed to the cases of Amro and Farid al-Atrash, a Palestinian lawyer from the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), who are being held in Israeli prisons over participation in a peaceful protest in February.
There are reportedly more than 6,500 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have apparently been incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, which is a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge