Amnesty slams charges against Palestinian campaigner

Youth Against Settlements founder Issa Amro, pictured in November 2015, is due to appear in an Israeli military court on 18 charges (AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned "baseless charges" against a prominent Palestinian human rights campaigner, a day ahead of his trial.

Issa Amro, founder of Youth Against Settlements, a campaign group in the West Bank city of Hebron, is due to appear in an Israeli military court Wednesday facing 18 charges.

Among them are previously closed cases and a charge over an assault that took place when Amro was absent as he had already been arrested, Amnesty said.

"The deluge of charges against Issa Amro does not stand up to any scrutiny," Amnesty's Magdalena Mughrabi said in a statement.

"If he is convicted, we will consider Issa Amro a prisoner of conscience."

A military spokesman, in a later statement, said evidence would be presented at the hearing that the accused had "taken part in riots, attacks on soldiers, calls to violence, and prevented security forces from doing their work".

Hebron, where hundreds of Israelis live in heavily guarded settlements in the heart of a city of 200,000 Palestinians, is a key site of tension in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

Amro denies ever using violence to oppose the occupation of the West Bank.

"On the contrary, I am a person who advocates non-violence," he told AFP Tuesday.

The trial "is a political decision from the Israeli right-wing government to target my human rights work," he said.

Since October 2015, 240 Palestinians, 36 Israelis, two Americans, a Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese have been killed in a wave of violence, according to an AFP tally.

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks, according to Israeli authorities. Many were from Hebron.