Hundreds of people have gathered this Thursday to protest in the streets of Ramallah, in the West Bank, for the death hours before the activist Nizar Banat, critical of the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, when he was in the custody of the security forces.
The protesters have displayed a photograph of Banat and banners in their support, in addition to calling for Abbas’s resignation. The family of the deceased has denounced that ssuffered physical abuse by the PA security forces, which further aggravated his already deteriorating state of health.
The governor of Hebron, Yibrin al Bakri, reported that Banat was arrested in the early hours of this Thursday and, after that, “his health deteriorated”, without giving further details about it. “After being seen by doctors, they confirmed his death.”
The rest of the opposition forces have joined in condemning Banat’s death, even calling it “murder”, such is the case of the leader of the Democratic Reform Bloc, Ghassan Jadala, who has called for “a massive national response the size of all the hatred the PA has for its opponents.”
For his part, the spokesman for the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Sami Abu Zuhri, has written on Twitter that Banat’s death is a “reckoning” and part of “bloody politics” of the PA and have pointed out that the prime minister, Mohamed Shtayé, “Has the main responsibility for the crime.”
Critical to Abbas
It was not the first time that Banat had been arrested, who in the past had repeatedly denounced the Palestinian Authority for alleged serious human rights violations and corruption.
Critical of Abbas, he had planned to run in the parliamentary elections that were scheduled to take place in May, postponed by the Palestinian president after Israel refused to allow residents of East Jerusalem to vote.
The United Nations envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, has been “alarmed and saddened by the death of activist and former parliamentary candidate Nizar Banat after his arrest by the Palestinian security forces in Hebron.”
“My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” he said through a message posted on his account on the social network Twitter, in which he requested “a quick, independent and transparent investigation.” “Those responsible must be brought to justice,” he stressed.
Hours later, the spokesman for the UN Secretary General, Stephane Dujarric, told a press conference that Guterres “is very aware of the situation” in the Middle East and has expressed support for Wennesland’s comments.
For its part, USA has expressed its dismay at the death of Nizar Banat and the circumstances surrounding it, and has urged the Palestinian Authority to carry out a full and transparent investigation to hold the case accountable.
“We have serious concerns about the Palestinian Authority’s restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and the harassment of civil society activists and organizations,” he warned.
Thousands of people have attended this Friday the funeral of the Palestinian activist. The death of Banat, who had 44 years and died on Thursday in the framework of an operation carried out by the Palestinian security forces at his residence in Dura, which has raised controversy and led to a series of protests.
The funeral has thus become a new protest against Abbas after hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday night in West bank. The activist’s family has insisted that he suffered abuse while in detention. However, the causes of his death have not yet been clarified.
The results of the autopsy show that Banat had received blows, some of them to the head and neck. In addition, he had traces of pepper spray on his face, according to information from the newspaper ‘The Times of Israel’.
Banat had repeatedly accused the Palestinian Authority of committing serious human rights violations, as well as crimes of corruption. The activist had been arrested on several occasions.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism