The killing of Nizar Banat, 44, one of the most prominent critics of the Palestinian Authority, sparked widespread controversy inside and outside the Palestinian territories.
Nizar died today, after a unit of the Palestinian security forces raided the house where he was hiding and arrested him after beating him, according to his family members.
Representatives of the European Union and the United Nations called for an independent investigation into the incident, and Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh later announced the formation of an investigation committee.
The deceased’s cousin said, in an interview with a local radio station, quoting two of his cousins who witnessed the arrest, that about 25 members of the Palestinian security forces stormed the house where Nizar was hiding, smashing doors and windows, beating him with an iron bar and spraying pepper spray. In his eyes before they strip him of his clothes and drag him away.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after hearing the news of his death, and marched towards the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, chanting “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Abbas, you are not from us and leave.”
Palestinian security forces tried to disperse the crowd, fired tear gas at the demonstrators and beat protesters with wooden batons.
Nizar Banat hails from Dura, near the city of Hebron, and is known for publishing satirical videos about the Palestinian leadership, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, accusing them of corruption and fraud. He was followed by more than 100,000 people on Facebook.
In early May, gunmen fired bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the home of Nizar Banat near the West Bank city of Hebron, where his wife and children were inside.
Nizar accused the Fatah movement of attacking his house, saying that only it had tear gas and sound bombs.
He told a news agency last month when he was hiding in a house: “The Europeans should know that they are indirectly financing this organization (Fatah), its members shoot in all cases; they shoot it in their celebrations and in their fighting, and they shoot it at everyone who opposes it.” And he called on the West to cut aid to it because of what it considered a violation of human rights.
Banat was a candidate on an independent electoral list in the Palestinian elections, which were canceled earlier this year.
background of what happened
Nizar said earlier that prominent Fatah supporters are waging an incitement campaign against him on social media, accusing him of collaborating with Israel, which most Palestinians consider treason. However, he denied it.
Ammar Nabat, Nizar’s cousin, said that about 25 members of the Palestinian security forces stormed the house at 3:30 a.m., smashed doors and windows, beat him for eight minutes straight with iron bars, and sprayed hot pepper spray on his eyes and dragged him with them after stripping him of his clothes .
During his detention, his health deteriorated and he was transferred to Hebron General Hospital for treatment.
The European Union mission to the Palestinian Authority said via Twitter that it was “shocked and saddened” by the news of Nizar’s death and called for a “comprehensive, transparent and independent investigation”.
The UN Middle East envoy, Tor Wencesland, also called for an investigation into the incident, saying that “the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”