PA disrupting trial of Nizar Banat’s killers: family

Nizar Banat demo in Ramallah (Abbas Momani - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  March 27, 2022

Sitting beside her father’s library, which contains hundreds of books on politics, history and Arab literature, 17-year-old Qabas Banat prepares daily for her higher secondary school exams in June.

Qabas, the oldest daughter of Palestinian critic, Nizar Banat, still cannot fathom why she lost her father just because of his political opinions, and that he left her without being able to share in the happiness of her coming graduation from high school.

“We dreamt, many days, to live this moment together. He promised me, time and time again, that he will celebrate my graduation and take the best photos for me, but they killed him. They never think about his family, me or my brothers and sisters,” she told Anadolu Agency.

Qabas recalled how she was constantly competing with her father in the reading of books and discussion of them, before life became very hard since an unknown man was following them most days and chasing her father.

On the morning of 24 June, 2021, over a dozen Palestinian security officers stormed the Banat family’s home in the city of Hebron/Al-Khalil in the West Bank and assaulted Nizar, a prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its President, Mahmoud Abbas.

A post-mortem examination found that he had been beaten on the head, hands, neck, chest and legs and died less than an hour after his arrest.

His death triggered protests in the Palestinian territories, with Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh ordering the formation of a committee to investigate the matter.

According to his family, he had separated from living with his wife and their children since their home was subject to fire attack as a threat to Nizar due to his political activity.

Banat was nominated as a candidate in elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, which were cancelled by Abbas.

Ghassan Banat, Nizar’s brother, is following the legal proceedings against members of the security services, but he confirmed that the Palestinian Authority is not serious about the trial and is still trying to close the issue by any method.

“They are still trying to stop our legal activity by offering huge sums of money since Nizar’s murder, to close this file, and now they’re trying to convince local tribes to pressure us to abandon our demand to prosecute those who killed my brother, but we still reject all these bids,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Banat noted that, for four months, the Palestinian Authority never treated the issue seriously and they call on people who have nothing to do with the trial sessions.

“They use this method to prolong the duration of the trial. Every session, they come with new people who aren’t security officers or have any relationship with Nizar, and then the session is further delayed,” he said.

The death of Nizar Banat became a matter of public record and the Palestinian Authority arrested and assaulted hundreds of Palestinian activists who took part in the protests against his murder.

On his Facebook page, Ghassan keeps the Palestinian public informed of all developments on the matter and works with the legal team to globalize the cause of his brother.

In the next trial session, the PA told the family that the court will listen to the forensic medical examiner, who belongs to the Preventive Security Service.

“He will claim that my brother died due to heart disease. However, I obtained official medical reports from the two major hospitals in Hebron where Nizar went sometimes due to temporary medical conditions, and the reports emphasized that Nizar wasn’t suffering from any chronic or fatal diseases,” Banat told Anadolu Agency.

Nizar Banat was a staunch critic of the policies of the Palestinian President and the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and was arrested several times by security forces.

In his last interview with Anadolu Agency two weeks before his death, he made his point for his criticism of Abbas’ policies, arguing that the PLO has focused on “collecting money instead of rallying support for ending the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.”

Anadolu Agency