The Jerusalem Post
Protests over death of PA critic set to resume today
EU delegation visits family of Nizar Banat in Hebron
The head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, on Thursday called for an independent and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat.
The call came during a visit by EU officials to the family of Banat in Hebron.
Banat, 44, was reportedly beaten to death by Palestinian security officers who raided his home to arrest him last week.
Palestinian activists, meanwhile, said that they will resume protests against the death of Banat on Friday.
The protests, during which Palestinians chanted slogans against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, were temporarily suspended after protesters and journalists were physically assaulted by Palestinian security officers and Fatah thugs in Ramallah earlier this week.
The protests will take place in Ramallah and Hebron, as well as at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem after Friday prayers.
Burgsdorff expressed grief over the death of Banat and said that the EU will not stop supporting the issues for which the activist was killed.
Banat, an outspoken critic of Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, was famous for his Facebook posts and videos in which he denounced financial and administrative corruption in the PA.
Banat’s father, Khalil, told the EU delegation that the PA security forces participated in the “execution” of his son.
“This was a planned execution,”
Khalil Banat said. “The Palestinian Authority security forces, President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, General Intelligence Service chief Majed Faraj participated in the execution.”
The father said that more than 20 officers, operating on the instructions of the highest political and security echelons, were ordered to “execute” his son on the spot.
“They killed my son while he was sleeping,” the father added. “They beat him to death with their rifle butts and iron bars before strangling him.”
The family handed the EU officials a letter signed by Banat before his death in which he calls for suspending European financial
aid to the PA.
Banat published the letter in response to Abbas’s decision to call off the parliamentary election that was set to take place on May 22. Banat was running in the election as a candidate on the newly formed Freedom and Dignity electoral list.
His unprecedented appeal to the EU to suspend financial aid to the PA outraged several PA officials. Shortly after the letter was publicized, unidentified gunmen attacked Banat’s house with bullets and stun grenades. No one was hurt.
Although one week has passed since the incident, the PA has still not published the findings of a committee that was formed to investigate the death of the activist. The committee, headed by PA Minister of Justice Mohammed al-Shalaldeh, presented its report to Shtayyeh on Tuesday night.
Shalaldeh said that the committee recommended that its findings be referred to the Palestinian “military judiciary,” but did not provide further details.
Shalaldeh later told the PA’s Palestine TV that the initial medical report about the death of Banat indicated that he was subjected to physical violence. The cause of death was neurological shock, which resulted in acute heart and pulmonary failure, he said.
Many Palestinian political activists condemned the PA for failing to publish the results of the commission of inquiry.
“It’s clear that the Palestinian leadership does not want the truth to come out,” said activist Hazem Juma’ah. “They know that the truth will hurt them even more.”
Another activist, Issa Jawdat, said that many Palestinians anyway have no confidence in the committee that was appointed by Abbas and Shtayyeh. “They formed the committee to hide the truth and prevent an embarrassment for them,” Jawdat said, referring to the PA leaders. “Everyone knows that this committee is a joke. We want an independent inquiry by international parties.”
Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy head of the ruling Fatah faction, said on Thursday that “what happened to Nizar Banat is painful and unfortunate.”
He added: “The killing [of Banat] is not part of our culture, and what happened was an unintended accident.”