At 3:30 Thursday morning, 20 Palestinian Authority security henchmen stormed the Hebron home of activist Nizar Banat, beat him up in front of his wife who was holding their baby, and his children who were also looking on, and took him alive to the prison, reported the Palestine Twitter account, adding, that by 8 AM, the news of his death—in a Hebron hospital—had been announced.
“All eyes on the West Bank today as people will be taking to the streets in anger at the killing of activist Nizar Banat at the hands of the internationally funded Palestinian Security Forces,” PA scholar Dr. Yara Hawari tweeted on Thursday and was followed by a torrent of angry responses both in Arabic and English.
Banat was renowned for his criticism of the PA leadership, was arrested a few times by Abbess’s security forces. Muhannad Karajah from NGO Lawyers for Justice told the Middle East Eye that he had received a call from Banat on Wednesday, and the activist complained that he was threatened by PA Intelligence to stop criticizing the boss, or else.
Earlier this week, Banat—a candidate on the Freedom and Dignity electoral list for the parliamentary elections Abbas canceled on May 22—posted a video attacking the PA for rejecting a million Corona vaccines from Israel. The video was the latest in a string of such attacks posted by Banat on Facebook against PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA and Fatah officials.
Following Chairman Abbas’ cancellation of both the parliamentary and presidential elections (the latter scheduled for July 31), Banat asked the EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to immediately cut off financial aid to the PA.
Banat’s uncle, Amar Banat, reported on Thursday that the security personnel blew up the front door of the house and hit the activist in the head with batons and rifle butts.
“They sprayed him with three cans of tear gas, assaulted him, and then put him in a vehicle in front of his family,” he added.
Another family member who was present at the house at the time of the arrest said that three officers from the PA Preventive Security were present during the breaking into the house. Their company of thugs then stripped Banat of his clothes and started beating him.
According to WAFA, The Governor of Hebron Jibreen Al-Bakri issued a statement Thursday, saying, “Following the issuing of a summons from the Public Prosecution to arrest the citizen Nizar Khalil Muhammad Banat, a force from the security services arrested him at dawn today, and during the arrest, his health deteriorated. He was immediately transferred to the Hebron Government Hospital.”
The governor’s statement added. “After he was examined by doctors, he was pronounced dead. The Public Prosecution office started procedures in accordance with the law immediately after it was informed of the incident.”
Attorney Karajah said he had expected that Banat would be arrested, but “what happened with Nizar Banat is an assassination. Today, what Palestinian activists and human rights defenders are waiting for are assassinations. The Palestinian Authority confirms today by killing Nizar Banat that it is a repressive authority that threatens any human rights defender, and every person is subjected to a process of political arrest.”
Amar Banat told MEE that “an hour and a half after the arrest, news spread through WhatsApp groups that he had died as a result of a health setback, and they did not officially inform us as a family of any information about his death until now.”
According to Ammar, family members went to the Alia Governmental Hospital, where he had died according to the security services – but his body was nowhere to be found.
Amar believes the announcement of his nephew’s death in Alia was a ruse. “They did not transfer Nizar to the hospital, nor did they transfer him to any of the security headquarters. Until this moment, five hours after his death, we don’t know the location of the body of our son Nizar. The Palestinian Authority is hiding the body in order to manipulate the facts of his death.”