The family of the Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, announced his death as a result of the assault on him after he was arrested by Palestinian security from one of the family’s homes in Hebron, in the southern occupied West Bank, while a statement by the Hebron Governorate confirmed the death after his health deteriorated.
At 3:35 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, adding, that by 8 AM, the news of his death.
“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 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 our reporters 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.
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.
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.”
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 our reporters 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.
He added that the family searched for Nizar’s body in the three main hospitals in the Hebron governorate, but did not find it. He demanded that the Palestinian Authority not perform an autopsy on his body, and that another independent body do this to reveal the truth about what happened.
Condemnation of “assassination”
The leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Sami Abu Zuhri said that the movement condemns what he described as the crime of assassinating Nizar Banat. Abu Zuhri also called for the trial of those he described as murderers. He added that Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh bears the primary responsibility for what happened.
For its part, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine held the Palestinian Authority responsible for what it described as the assassination of the national opposition activist Nizar Banat, by arresting him and his death a few hours after this arrest.
The Front indicated in a press statement that this incident opens again the discussion about the nature of the role and function of the authority and its security services, and what the statement called the violation of the democratic rights of citizens through the policy of silencing, prosecution, arrest and killing. The Front emphasized that this event should not be kept silent and that it should not go unnoticed.