Palestinian activist 'blindfolded and transported in box' by Israeli army

Activist speaks about his arrest after he was accused of inciting violence during Hebron protest.

Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Al-Shuhada Street, Hebron, on 10 July 2015. The two activists are accused of having incited violence during a February 2016 protest calling on Israeli authroities to re-open Al-Shuhada StreetLudovica Iaccino

A Palestinian activist has alleged that Israeli security forces blindfolded him and transported him in a box during his arrest in 2016.

Farid al-Atrash, head of the southern division of the Palestinian statutory watchdog Independent Commission of Human Rights, was arrested for his role in protests that called for an end to Israel's military occupation of Palestinian territory.

Both al-Atrash and Issa Amro – co-founder of the Youth Against Settlement group – face criminal charges for their involvement in a February 2016 demonstration, which called on Israeli authorities to reopen al-Shuhada Street in the city of Hebron, West Bank.

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The pair are said to have "incited violence" during the protest.

"They put me in a box that was just the size of my body," al-Atrash told Vice News, describing the moments Israeli military forces took him from a detention centre to the Ofer military court in February 2016.

"A wooden box, with only a small hole to breathe through. I was blindfolded. It felt like I was in a grave."

"I'm a lawyer! A defender of human rights. And this was done to me. It was outrageous. It was the worst day of my life," he continued. He has a court hearing next month.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces has not replied to an IBTimes UK request for a comment on the allegations.

Amro faces 18 counts against him, dating back from 2010. He was charged with cybercrime under the Electronic Crimes Law after writing a Facebook post on the arrest of a Palestinian journalist.

Rights group Amnesty International deemed the Electronic Crimes Law as "repressive" and said the charges faced by the two activists are baseless.

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The activist, who spoke to IBTimes UK in Hebron in 2015, said he is still committed to ending Israeli occupation.

"I want to end the occupation now. I want to make Israel accountable for its human rights violations,"he told Vice.

"Fifty years has passed without any real efforts to put pressure on Israel. Without real international pressure, the occupation will never end."

Amro and al-Atrash's attorney Gabi Lasky, from the Israeli organisation Human Rights Defenders Fund, was quoted by Human Rights Watch as saying: "It seems that the indictment and court procedures are the way of the occupation to silence nonviolent demonstrators calling peacefully to open al-Shuhada street in Hebron by criminalizing their acts."

An Israeli military spokesman said in July 2017 that 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," the Times of Israel reported.

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