The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s security forces have been violently crushing protests throughout the West Bank for days now, as Palestinians have taken to the streets of Ramallah in the aftermath of a political dissident and vocal government critic.
According to his family, Nizar Banat, one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s biggest critics, had been repeatedly beaten with a metal rod by PA forces before getting arrested Thursday.
Palestinian security forces have assumed a zero tolerance policy rushing the streets and stopping protesters from advancing, violently assaulting them with punches and with batons.
According to witnesses, officers also fired tear gas and targeted journalists in response. There are no official figures on the number of arrests or injuries.
“The targeting of journalists by security men is a new, grave development in the onslaught on freedom of expression and the media,” the Palestinian journalists’ union said in a statement.
Banat was a social activist who spoke against the corruption of the PA, including their COVID-19 vaccine exchange with Israel earlier this month as well as the postponement of an election in May, which he was a registered parliamentary candidate.
After his death, protesters marched with Palestinian flags and pictures of Banat.
Protesters are calling for an independent investigation of Banat’s death and an end to Abbas’s 16-year rule.
Though human rights groups claim Abbas arrests critics regularly, Abbas and the PA deny accusations of corruption and arrests of critics.