Rival Palestinian groups clash against protest over activist death | Busy West Bank News


Rival Palestinian groups clashed Sunday in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah during a fourth day of protests over the death of Nizar Banat, a outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) who died in the custody of the Palestinian Authority.

Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old Hebron activist known for videos on social media denouncing alleged corruption in the AP, died Thursday after security forces stormed his home and violently arrested him.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reportedly said fighting began on Sunday between protesters calling for the resignation of AP President Mahmoud Abbas and a rival group to demonstrate in support of the AP and Fatah. , Abbas’s party that dominates the Palestinian Authority.

“There was a small crowd of about 100 people singing against the Palestinian Authority,” Dekker said.

“You had another crowd that was right on the street … that they are pro-Fatah, the ruling elite party, joining them and then there were clashes,” Dekker said.

Dekker, of Al Jazeera, said there was “a concerted campaign” against the media covering the protests on Sunday.

“We were surrounded by six [people], I can only call them thugs, demanding to see our camera. We weren’t filming at the time. In fact, they forced us to lower the focus of our SMG truck, ”he said.

“Another friend’s camera was broken. This has been happening for the last two days. “

Palestinian supporters of President Mahmoud Abbas march in opposition as others protest the death of human rights activist Nizar Banat [Abbas Momani/AFP]

New protests against Banat’s death also took place on Sunday in his hometown of Hebron and in Bethlehem, both in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian security forces with riot gear fired tear gas and fired grenades at Bethlehem protesters, sending many to run for cover.

According to the initial autopsy, the wounds indicated that Banat had been hit in the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, and that less than an hour had elapsed between his arrest and his death, he said. the pathologist Samir Abu Zarzour.

Banat’s family said security forces used it with pepper spray, hit him badly and dragged him into a vehicle.

The AP has announced the opening of an investigation into Banat’s death, but has done little to allay anger on the streets.

Following the news of his death on Thursday, protesters set fire to it, blocked streets in the city center and collided with riot police in Ramallah. Palestinians also sang against the AP on Friday at the Banat funeral in Hebron and after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Protesters they clashed with Palestinian security forces and pro-PA rival protesters in Ramallah on Saturday as hundreds tried to march on the premises of Abbas’s office.

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

Mkhaimar Abusada, an associate professor of political science at Al Azhar University in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that Abbas and the international support PA are facing a growing reaction from Palestinians about perceived corruption and authoritarianism.

“Seeing these masses of Palestinian protesters protesting against the Palestinian Authority, singing directly against President Abbas demanding his removal and his removal, is unprecedented,” he said.

‘A shame’

Shawan Jabareen, director of the Al Haq rights group, said clashes between rival Palestinians on the street on Sunday were a “shame,” especially after many Palestinians had set aside differences to unite in protest of the bombing. ‘Israel during the Gaza Strip for 11 days. May and forced expulsions of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

“Right now it looks like the Palestinians are splitting up again,” he told Al Jazeera.

“To be honest with you, I care about the people here.”

Palestinians hold posters depicting human rights activist Nizar Banat during a protest in his hometown of Hebron in the occupied West Bank [Mosab Shawer/AFP]

Jabareen said many plainclothes men attacking journalists on Sunday were members of the security forces.

“They are not civilians. They are members of security, ”Jabareen said.

Fadi Quran, senior activist of activist group Avaaz, was at the protest on Sunday and also said PA “thugs” attacked protesters and journalists and sexually harassed the rally.

“It is extremely dangerous and painful what happened, all because they fear public mobilization against Mahmoud Abbas and the AP, who are continually collaborating with the occupation and oppressing the Palestinian people,” he said.

The PA coordinates security and civilian issues with Israel.

“People should not see Israel and the PA as separate entities, the PA as an agency is a subcontractor for employment,” the Qur’an said.

Meanwhile, PA Labor Minister Nasri Abu Jaish and a representative of the People’s Party in government resigned on Sunday, a member of his party said.

The left-wing Palestinian People’s Party withdrew from the Fatah-led PA government because of “its lack of respect for laws and civil liberties,” party member Issam Abu Bakr said.

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