Protests continue in Ramallah after activist’s death

Palestinian plainclothed officers detain a youth in Ramallah, during a protest against the death in PA custody of activist Nizar Banat (AFP)

Al-Jazeera  /  June 27, 2021

Hundreds took to the streets of Ramallah, calling for Palestinian president to quit.

Palestinian protesters and security forces clashed in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday, a third day of demonstrations sparked by an activist’s death in custody.

Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old from Hebron known for social media videos denouncing alleged corruption within the Palestinian Authority (PA), died on Thursday shortly after security forces stormed his house and violently arrested him, his family said.

On Saturday, hundreds took to the streets of Ramallah, the seat of the PA in the occupied West Bank, calling for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to quit.

Protester Ismat Mansour said the death of Banat was just “the tip of the iceberg” while accusing the PA of “a mountain of corruption” and demanding that elections be held.

Others held up placards directed at the PA that simply said “leave”.

Security officers in riot gear blocked off streets. An AFP news agency photographer said protesters hurled rocks at security forces, who responded by launching a barrage of tear gas canisters to break up the crowds.

Banat had registered as a candidate in Palestinian parliamentary elections, which had been set for May until Abbas postponed them indefinitely.

Banat’s family said the forces used pepper spray on him, beat him badly and dragged him away in a vehicle.

Samir Abu Zarzour, the doctor who carried out his autopsy, said injuries on Banat’s body indicated he had been beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsing between his arrest and his death.