Thousands flocked to Hebron streets in the West Bank to commemorate Nizar Banat, an active opponent of the Palestinian Authority. Banat died in PA detention last week.
Congregants came from all over the region for Banat’s funeral. The funeral ceremony, by the way, turned to a protest with angry people chanting against Pa and its leaders.
People accused the Palestinian Authority with treacherous collaboration of Abbas government with Israel. Calling for the downfall of the government, the protesters believed they are under a double occupying system.
People also chanted against Mahmoud Abbas, the long-time leader of PA. Abbas has been the president since 2005. His mandate at the office ended 4 years later, while he kept the power for the next 12 years without election. Abbas postponed the election recurrently, the last one occurring few months ago.
Despite keeping the office against the law, western powers recognize Abbas government and aid him with financial aid. The million-dollar aid, Palestinian people believe, was used against the benefits of the citizens.
The suspicious death of Nizar Banat under PA custody was the last shot on the silent fire of people’s fury against the government.
Nizar Banat; An Ardent Critic
43-year-old Nizar Banat had planned to stand in the legislative elections early in 2019. Banat is a severe opponent of the Palestinian Authority, which controls some areas in the West Bank. He urged foreign countries to cut off assistance to PA because of its rising totalitarianism and abuses against the people’s rights.
Banat was an ardent critic of the Palestinian Authority’s corruption and security collaboration with Tel Aviv. He was well-known for sharing his opinions on Facebook with over 100,000 people following his ideas there.
After being charged with cooperating with Israel, Banat accused major Fatah members of launching a disinformation operation against him. He rejected the charge.
Formerly a member of the Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s leading party, Nizar Banat ran as a candidate for in the parliamentary elections. The election was due last May.
PA president called off the elections claiming that Israel won’t allow people in East Jerusalem to cast their votes. The two-state solution designates East Jerusalem as the capital of new Palestine.
Observers claimed, however, that the underlying motivation was Abbas’ concerns that a potential defeat in the election. The fragmented Fatah could undergo another devastating loss by Hamas if the election was to be held.
Nizar Banat was one of the rare loud voices against Abbas repressive policies in Palestinian politics. Banat believed that the long-time administration has done nothing to the benefit of the country in the last decade.
A Suspicious Death
Witnesses at his house in Dura say PA officers attacked Nizar Banat while in bed at midnight. The PA officers violently beat him out of the house. Local people say Nizar screamed at the door while the security forces carried him out using batons and other tools.
The result of an autopsy concluded that Nizar Banat died as a result of harsh blows on the head. The scars indicated “an unnatural death,” according to Palestinian activists.
Banat experienced prison for more than eight times before the last one which led to his death.
Armed men targeted his house with stun grenades and tear gas last month. His family members, including his children, were in the house when the attack took place. Banat believes Fatah security forces were behind the crackdown.
“The Europeans need to know that they are indirectly funding this organization. They fire their guns into the air at Fatah celebrations, they fire their guns in the air when Fatah leaders fight each other, and they fire their guns at people who oppose Fatah,” Nizar Banat said in an interview after the attack.
Nizar Banat’s death was an alarm for Mahmoud Abbas, PA, Fatah movement and all their followers. The continuation of the crackdown against Palestinian activists and critics may lead to an all-out uprising.