The Jerusalem Post

Protests over death of PA critic set to resume today

EU delegation visits family of Nizar Banat in Hebron

- • KHALED ABU TOAMEH

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.”

 ?? (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters) ?? DEMONSTRAT­ORS CLASH with Palestinia­n police in Ramallah earlier this week during a protest over the death of Nizar Banat, a critic of the Palestinia­n Authority.
(Mohamad Torokman/Reuters) DEMONSTRAT­ORS CLASH with Palestinia­n police in Ramallah earlier this week during a protest over the death of Nizar Banat, a critic of the Palestinia­n Authority.

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