By Tamara Nassar
July 05, 2021 "Information
Clearing House" - - "ElectronicIntifada"
The Palestinian Authority has removed its mask.
The death of prominent Palestinian activist Nizar
Banat in PA custody last week and the PA’s
subsequent attacks on demonstrators protesting his
killing have exposed more than ever the purpose of
the PA’s existence.
Palestinian Authority forces are Israel’s foot
They suppress Palestinian opposition and
resistance to help Israel maintain its occupation in
the West Bank while promoting the illusion of
Palestinian autonomy and representation.
On cue, PA forces in uniform and civilian
clothing on Saturday attacked protesters
demonstrating against Banat’s death, as well as
journalists covering the events, human rights group
Using batons and stones, PA personnel injured
some people in the head and dragged others on the
ground and beat them.
Al-Haq said PA forces used tear gas on protesters
even when children and elderly people were standing
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Individuals in civilian clothing attacked
journalists, forcing several to leave the area. Some
journalists had equipment and phones seized
Died in custody
Nizar Khalil Banat, 44, died shortly after he was
arrested by Palestinian Authority forces early
Thursday in the southern occupied West Bank city of
He was an outspoken critic of the Palestinian
Authority and had been a candidate in the
legislative elections that were scheduled for May
but canceled by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Human rights organizations, political parties,
local and international groups have urged an
investigation into Banat’s death.
According to Hussein Banat, a relative who
said he witnessed the arrest, around 25 security
officers stormed the home at around 3:30 am.
“They started severely beating Nizar while he was
sleeping,” Hussein Banat said. “They beat him with a
baton on his head.”
Hussein Banat said “they stripped him of all his
clothes with brutal force and beat him continuously
for eight minutes.” He added that they attacked him
with tear gas while he was sleeping.
Jibreen al-Bakri, governor of Hebron, issued a
statement just before 6 am saying that Banat died
during arrest without mentioning a cause of death.
“A security force unit arrested him at dawn,
during which his health deteriorated and he was
transferred to the Hebron public hospital,” al-Bakri
“Upon examination by the doctors, it appeared
that he was dead,” al-Bakri added.
his death “a full-fledged murder” planned and
executed with premeditation.
While the exact cause of Banat’s death remains
undisclosed, he died in the custody of Palestinian
Authority forces whom evidence indicates subjected
him to extreme violence.
Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al-Haq, said that
Banat was severely beaten with a metal baton and was
already dead by the time he arrived at the hospital.
In response to a media question about who bears
responsibility for her husband’s death, Banat’s wife
replied that “the security forces detained him,
and so they hold [that responsibility].”
She added: “the security forces are responsible
for the blood of my husband.” She said he was in
“excellent” health before his arrest.
Two Palestinian rights groups formed an
independent committee to investigate Banat’s death.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights and
appointed forensic pathologist Dr. Samir Abu
Zaarour to attend the autopsy last week along with a
second doctor representing Banat’s family.
said that Banat “did not die a natural death.”
Dr. Abu Zaarour told a press conference last week
that Banat had several bruises and injuries on his
head, neck, chest, shoulders, and other parts of his
The pathologist said there was no sign that Banat
had a heart attack or stroke, adding that the
effects on his body indicated he died less than an
hour after his arrest.
Coordination and collaboration
Israel divided Hebron
into two zones – H1 and H2 – following the 1994
massacre of 29 Palestinian men and boys by an
American Jewish settler in the city’s Ibrahimi
Around 80 percent of the city is designated as H1
and under the nominal control of the Palestinian
Authority in coordination with Israel.
The remaining 20 percent, H2, is under the full
control of the Israeli military.
The Jawhar mosque area where Banat was arrested
is located in
This means that the PA security forces would have
had to coordinate their entry into the area with the
Israeli occupation forces,
to the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations
The Palestinian Authority has since its creation
in the mid-1990s maintained close cooperation with
Israeli occupation forces under the banner of “security
“The PA security police have been a major Israeli
success,” Columbia University professor Joseph
writes in Middle East Eye. The PA’s
role as an auxiliary force for Israel is built into
the 1993 Oslo accords under which it was created.
Establishing the PA spared Israel many of the
direct costs and consequences of occupation,
including bad publicity and danger to its own
The PA’s creation “replicated, and was perhaps
inspired by, the South African apartheid state’s use
of the Black police to suppress Black resistance
before 1994, an arrangement that reduced the danger
to the lives of white policemen,” Massad adds.
In the areas where the PA has nominal control,
Palestinian forces are only allowed to arrest other
Palestinians. They cannot touch Israeli soldiers or
settlers who attack Palestinians.
This means in practice that the PA
exists to protect Israel and its settlers, and
to police Palestinians on Israel’s behalf.
The PA’s key role in suppressing Palestinian
protest and resistance to Israel’s military
occupation is why the US and European states fund
Banat’s killing and the PA’s subsequent brutal
suppression of protesters are just the latest fruits
of this collaboration.
Calls for accountability
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
said there may be “criminal suspicion” in
Banat’s death in view of “the excessive and
unjustified force used by security forces” against
him during his arrest.
The group added that Banat was “a political
activist” and that he was “not armed or wanted for
Tor Wennesland, the UN Middle East peace envoy,
called for a “swift, independent and
transparent” investigation into Nizar Banat’s death,
saying “perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
Wennesland’s office is more hesitant to call for
“justice” in cases where Israelis are suspected of
perpetrating crimes against Palestinians.
The European Union’s office in the occupied West
Bank declared itself “shocked and saddened” by
Banat’s death and also
called for a “full, independent and transparent
also decried the PA’s “ill-treatment” of
activists, though the EU has long
trained PA forces.
Indeed, on Monday the EU
announced it had renewed the mandate for
EUPOL COPPS, its mission responsible for
providing this training.
The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor also
called for an investigation and “accountability
for all those involved in killing [Banat].”
Palestinian resistance factions across the
political spectrum condemned Banat’s killing.
Hamas denounced what it
“This premeditated and organized crime reflects
the intentions of Abbas’ authority and its security
apparatus toward our people, opposition activists
and his political opponents,” Hamas stated.
The leftist group Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine also
PA fully responsible for the “assassination” of
Banat was a fierce critic of the PA, corruption
amongst the Palestinian political elite and
so-called security coordination – collaboration –
Banat had more than 120,000 followers on Facebook,
where he shared posts and videos criticizing the PA
and its leaders.
In his last
video posted on Wednesday, Banat discussed the
recent uprising in Beita as well as the history of
the West Bank village going back to the first
Palestinians have been
resisting a new Israeli colonial outpost built
on land belonging to the Nablus-area villages of
Qabalan, Yatma and Beita.
“Security coordination is the main and desired
function of the Palestinian Authority and the
Palestine Liberation Organization,” Banat said in a
video he posted on Twitter a year ago.
The PA arrested Banat multiple times previously,
most recently in November 2020 when he spoke out
against its decision to resume its security
coordination with Israel.
On 2 May, Banat’s house was attacked with shots
and stun grenades,
according to the Palestinian Centre for Human
If that had been intended to intimidate him into
silence, it did not work.
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