West Bank: The “ shocking” killing of political activist Nizar Banat must be independently and immediately investigated

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GENEVA –  The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL)condemns the killing of the Palestinian political opponent Nizar Banat, after he was arrested and beaten by the security services in the West Bank, and calls for an independent investigation committee, publicly revealing the findings, and holding those involved in the crime accountable.

The Council says that at approximately 3:30 AM today, Thursday, June 24, 2021, a joint security force consisting of 25 members of the Palestinian Intelligence and Preventive Security Service stormed the southern area of Hebron and raided the home of the political opponent Nizar Khalil Muhammad Banat.,46, was accompanied by two of his relatives.

The force members broke down the doors and windows of the house and stormed it while its residents were sleeping. Then, they raided the room in which Nizar was sleeping and severely beat him on the head with batons. Muhammed and Majdi Banat, who were inside the house, stated that the security forces violently beat Nizar for over eight minutes and sprayed him with pepper gas, before stripping him of his clothes and taking him to an unknown destination.

Banat was transferred to Hebron Hospital, at approximately 6:45 am, where he was declared dead.

The Governor of Hebron, “Jibreen Al-Bakri,”  said in a press statement, “following summons from the Public Prosecution to arrest the citizen Nizar Khalil Muhammad Banat, at dawn today, a force from the security services detained him, during which his health deteriorated, and immediately transferred to the Hebron Governmental Hospital. Subsequently, doctors examined him and declared the citizen dead. The Public Prosecution Office was immediately informed, which attended and proceeded to act under-recognized due process.”
However, Banat’s family and eyewitnesses denied the Hebron governor’s statement, stressing that Nizar was violently beaten.

Nizar Banat was a candidate on the “Freedom and Dignity” list in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, which were canceled by a decision of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On May 1, his house was exposed to direct fire and gas bombs amid the preparations for the Legislative Council elections. This attack came at the height of his being threatened after the candidate list sent a letter to the representatives of the European Union in Palestine, declaring its intention to go to the European courts to request the cessation of financial support for the Palestinian Authority due to the postponement of the elections.

The activist Banat was previously subjected to political arrest several times, including the initiation of politicized lawsuits against him due to his strong opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s policies and violations of the security services in the West Bank.

Nizar Banat was subjected to political arrest several times by the Palestinian security services, against the background of his opposition to the approach of the Palestinian Authority and the violations of its security services in the West Bank.
While the Council condemns the killing of Banat, it calls for an independent investigation into this serious incident, which represents a grave violation of the Palestinian Authority’s obligations to international human rights covenants.

GCRL points out that the approach of liquidating opponents through enforced disappearance, political arrest, and threats constitutes crimes that require accountability, and states that this incident is not the first in which opponents of the authority have been subjected to liquidation during their arrest. The Council demands an end to the policy of political arrest and arbitrary detention and the abolition of all restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression.

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