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PA critic Nizar Banat’s suspected murderers sent on vacation by the PA

Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |

PA critic and activist Nizar Banat died in June last year after being violently beaten and arrested by PA Security Forces in Hebron. Palestinian Media Watch revealed that even while the PA promised a thorough investigation, at the same time it tried to buy off Banat’s family. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, during their ongoing trial in a PA military court, the PA granted PA Security Forces members suspected of murdering Banat a two-week vacation!  

What is more, while the vacation was supposed to end on July 2, 2022, PMW has not found any evidence that the suspects have been returned to prison following their vacation. 

In late June, the PA temporarily released a number of prisoners, among them the suspected murderers of Banat, under the excuse that the Coronavirus had begun to spread again in the PA prisons: 

Independent Palestinian news agency Wattan host: “News items were published about the release of those accused of assassinating Nizar Banat, 14 people in the case of Nizar Banat’s assassination… A letter was published… [saying]: ‘Due to the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic in the Palestinian territories and following the statements made by the head of medical services on the rise in the number of those infected with the Coronavirus in the rehabilitation and training centers (i.e., PA prisons)… the head of the preventative medicine division of the northern districts (i.e., the West Bank) recommend[s] to close the rehabilitation and training center in Ramallah… out of a desire to protect our people from the epidemic… we have no opposition to granting the prisoners in this case a vacation until July 2, 2022, while providing guarantees for their health and carrying out medical checks on them and taking preventative measures.’” 

[YouTube channel of Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, June 22, 2022] 

The release of 45 prisoners “to protect the prisoners’ health” was confirmed by PA Security Forces Spokesperson Talal Dweikat: 

Official PA TV newsreader: “[PA] Security Forces Spokesperson Talal Dweikat said that the forces are honoring the decision of the [PA] military prosecutor, who gave vacation to 45 prisoners [being held] on military convictions as a temporary measure, as the military prosecutor is supervising the [prison] rehabilitation and training centers to protect the prisoners’ health. The decision was made in accordance with the measures required during the spread of an epidemic.” 

[Official PA TV News, June 27, 2022] 

The PA press has not reported further on the trial against Banat’s suspected murderers or their “vacation.” 

The following is a longer excerpt of the report by the independent Palestinian news agency Wattan: 

Independent Palestinian news agency Wattan host: “Yesterday [June 21, 2022] news items were published about the release of those accused of assassinating Nizar Banat (see note below -Ed.), 14 people in the case of Nizar Banat’s assassination. Note the date as we are approaching the first anniversary [of Banat’s death]. A letter was published on social media, whose headline is ‘The spread of the Coronavirus epidemic in the [prison] rehabilitation and training centers.’ …The letter says: ‘Due to the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic in the Palestinian territories and following the statements made by the head of medical services on the rise in the number of those infected with the Coronavirus in the rehabilitation and training centers… There is crowding in the rehabilitation and training facilities, a commitment to bring the prisoners at the times of the court hearings, and the letter of the head of the preventative medicine division of the northern districts (i.e., the West Bank) recommending to close the rehabilitation and training center in Ramallah – it’s a long letter – and in accordance with the letter of the defendants’ lawyer, out of a desire to protect our people from the epidemic, and due to the emergency situation – this is what the letter says – and the desire for the rehabilitation, military trial, and medical immunity of our people who are carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic), we have no opposition to granting the prisoners in this case a vacation until July 2, 2022, while providing guarantees for their health and carrying out medical checks on them and taking preventative measures. This is what the letter that was published says. What strengthened people’s belief in the accuracy of this are the blessings for the defendants that were published on social media wishing them health, and pictures of receptions that were held for them, which provided people with evidence that the news of their release was true. The military prosecution denied the matter, the human rights organizations attempted to receive precise reports, but they received denials of every report on the matter.” 

[YouTube channel of Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, June 22, 2022] 

PA critic and activist Nizar Banat died after being violently beaten and arrested by PA Security Forces in Hebron on June 24, 2021. 

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