The Jerusalem Post

Demonstrat­ions continue over PA’s killing of activist

Palestinia­ns take to street despite warnings from Ramallah, demand Abbas and Shtayyeh resign

- • By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Thousands of Palestinia­ns demonstrat­ed in Hebron and Ramallah over the weekend in protest at the death of anti-corruption activist Nizar Banat, who was beaten by Palestinia­n Authority security officers before he died last month.

The demonstrat­ions were organized by various Palestinia­n factions and youth groups despite warnings from the PA and the ruling Fatah faction.

The protesters called for those responsibl­e for the death of Banat, an outspoken critic of the PA leadership, to be held to account. They also chanted slogans calling on PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, to step down.

The PA deployed hundreds of security officers and policemen on the streets of Ramallah and at the entrances to the city on Saturday afternoon as protesters began gathering at Manara Square.

The officers prevented Palestinia­ns from east Jerusalem and Arab citizens of Israel from entering the city to participat­e in the protest.

At the main entrance from Jerusalem, several masked gunmen appeared alongside security officers at a checkpoint. Residents said the gunmen were members of Fatah who were mobilized by the PA to help control the protesters and limit the number of participan­ts.

Last week, several protesters were beaten and had their phones confiscate­d by Fatah thugs and non-uniformed PA security officers during rallies in Ramallah.

Ghassan Banat, a brother of the slain activist, said during the protest in Ramallah that his family would accept nothing less than replacing the current Palestinia­n political leadership and its system of government.

“Nizar was the son of the Palestinia­n people,” Ghassan Banat said. “If President Abbas wants a truce, he should ask for it from all the Palestinia­ns.”

Banat’s father, Khalil, also called for Abbas and the PA government to step down, holding them directly responsibl­e for the “political assassinat­ion.”

“The era of fear has gone away,” the protesters chanted as they marched from Manara Square toward the Mukata,

Abbas’s presidenti­al compound. “Oh Abbas, leave leave!”

The protesters held placards accusing Abbas of responsibi­lity for the violent death of Banat. In addition, they denounced the PA security forces for assaulting demonstrat­ors over the past week, including the sexual harassment of several female journalist­s.

Some of the protesters also chanted slogans condemning ousted Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, an arch-rival of Abbas who is based in the United Arab Emirates.

The PA, meanwhile, announced on Friday that 14 officers were being questioned in connection with Banat’s death.

Talal Dweikat, spokespers­on for the PA security forces, said the military prosecutio­n was continuing its investigat­ions into the case, but did not provide further details.

He claimed that a committee set up by the PA government to investigat­e the death had interviewe­d members of his family. The family, however, denied this and said that no one from the PA had contacted them since the incident on June 24.

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