Vice / February 14, 2023
Footage showed the soldier grabbing Issa Amro by the neck, throwing him to the ground, and kicking him. The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright said that Amro had done nothing to justify the “violent assault.”
An Israeli soldier has been jailed for 10 days after he was filmed assaulting a Palestinian activist in front of a group of US journalists including Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker.
Footage posted online shows the soldier, who has not been named, grabbing Issa Amro by his jacket and then his neck, and throwing him to the ground. He then kicks Amro – who was showing the journalists around the town of Hebron in the occupied West Bank – while he lies on the floor.
The Israeli military said the soldier who assaulted Amro had asked the activist to step away from a guard post and that Amro began swearing at the soldier after this, but both Amro and Wright disputed this.
“As the video shows, the soldier did not act as expected and did not follow the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] code of conduct,” the military said.
Wright, who won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2007 for his book The Looming Tower, posted footage of the incident on Twitter on Monday.
“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,” he wrote. “I can’t stop thinking how dehumanizing the occupation is on the young soldiers charged with enforcing it.”
Wright said that the IDF was “misrepresenting” the build-up to the assault on Amro, who he described as a peace activist. “The soldier initiated the encounter, Amro did not curse him only asked to call his commander. Nothing to justify the violent assault that followed,” he said.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s ultranationalist National Security Minister, defended the soldier’s actions and described the decision to put him in a military prison as a “disgrace.”
Matthew Champion is editor-in-chief for VICE World News