His name was Nizar Banat, a Palestinian carpenter and house painter who used social media to criticize the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank led by Mahmoud Abbas. Yesterday a group of about 20 members of the PA security forces dragged him from his home and beat him to death.
“It is clear that we live under a corrupt system that is waging war against anyone who criticizes it,” said Ammar Banat, 27, a cousin of Nizar Banat. “Suffice it to say that we are not only living under an Israeli occupation but a Palestinian one, too.”…
Ammar Banat and other family members said a large contingent of security officers forced its way into a home where Mr. Banat was staying in central Hebron early Thursday. He had been living there, in an Israeli-controlled part of the city, for much of the past seven weeks after his home in Dura was shot at, his cousin said.
The relatives said the Palestinian forces beat him viciously, doused him with pepper spray, insulted him and dragged him on the ground.
Hours later, after calling friends in the security services to check up on Mr. Banat’s condition and looking for him at local hospitals, the family learned that he was dead, Ammar Banat said. Nizar Banat had been in “excellent heath,” his cousin added.
The Palestinian Authority hasn’t offered an explanation but did order an investigation into his death. The PA’s Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) refused to be part of that investigation and said they would carry out their own investigation. The ICHR has already conducted an autopsy of Banat’s body and the findings were pretty clear:
“The autopsy showed injuries represented by bruises and abrasians in many areas of the body, including the head, neck, shoulders, chest, back, and upper and lower extremities, with binding marks on the wrists and rib fractures,” the ICHR said.
“The preliminary autopsy results also indicate … an unnatural death, but determining the principal cause of death, from a clinical point of view, requires waiting for laboratory results from tissue samples,” it added in a statement.
Today there were some sizeable protests in the streets in response to Banat’s death. Authorities responded with tear gas:
— Liberty 💚 (@Liberty23658016) June 24, 2021
Those protests and the crackdown have continued into the night:
#Palestinian protests continue into the night over the death of political activist Nizar Banat shortly after he was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces – pressure building on President Abbas #نزار_بنات pic.twitter.com/ej47q3QhyK
— sebastian usher (@sebusher) June 24, 2021
This tweet reportedly shows video of another crackdown on protesters tonight.
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) June 24, 2021
Watch | The Palestinian Authority security forces in #Ramallah violently attacked a protest heading to the headquarter of President Mahmoud Abbas (Mukataa) against murdering the activist, Nizar Banat, this evening. #Nizar_Banat pic.twitter.com/tP451C7w27
— Huda 🇵🇸 #Gaza (@HudaFadil2) June 24, 2021
The Washington Post reports that Banat’s most recent criticism of the PA was over it’s last minute decision to reject a vaccine sharing agreement with Israel. A few hours after the deal was announced last week, the Palestinian Authority rejected it saying the vaccine doses were too close to expiration and didn’t meet their standards.
Banat’s home was attacked with gunfire last month while his wife was inside. At the time he blamed PA security forces:
In early May, gunmen fired bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at Nizar Banat’s home near the West Bank city of Hebron, where his wife was inside with their children. He blamed the attack on Abbas’ Fatah party, which dominates the security forces.
“The Europeans need to know that they are indirectly funding this organization,” he told The Associated Press in May in an interview at a house where he was hiding out. “They fire their guns into the air at Fatah celebrations, they fire their guns in the air when Fatah leaders fight each other and they fire their guns at people who oppose Fatah.”
As bad as the Abbas led Fatah party is, the alternative might be even worse. Hamas has already issued a statement trying to capitalize on Banat’s death.