RAMALLAH, Palestine

The Palestinian Authority (PA) Thursday announced the death of Nizar Banat, an activist and harsh critic of the PA, after his arrest by Palestinian security forces from his home in Hebron, southern West Bank.

In a statement, Hebron’s Governor Jibreen al-Bakri said Banat was held on an arrest warrant from the general prosecution.

Al-Bakri said Banat’s health condition deteriorated during his arrest and he was transferred to Hebron’s government hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.

Banat from Dura in Hebron was a leading independent activist and an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority. He was arrested several times by the Palestinian security forces in the past.

Banat was an independent candidate in the Palestinian legislative election before it was canceled by a decree from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on April 30.

Following the cancellation of the election, Banat harshly criticized the PA and called on the EU to halt funding to the PA.

After his call to the EU, his house came under fire. He had blamed the security forces for attacking his home and threatening him.

Banat assassinated, says family

Banat’s family accused the security forces of beating him to death.

Ammar Banat, a Banat family spokesman, said he was arrested at dawn by forces from the Preventive Security and General Intelligence.

Ammar said the security forces stormed his home by breaking the doors while he was sleeping, adding that they sprayed pepper on his face and beat him up.

He said the family has not been notified, and they heard about Banat’s death from the media.

He also demanded an autopsy in the presence of a family doctor and an international investigation with the participation of rights groups.

Wide condemnation

Palestinian political and rights groups condemned the incident that led to Banat’s death.

The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights said in a statement it has started an investigation and gathered information on the death of Banat.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the assassination of Banat.

The Palestinian National Initiative group called for an independent investigation committee to probe Banat’s death.

Banat recently strongly criticized the PA over a vaccine deal with Israel that appeared to have expired or soon to expire. The authority announced the cancellation of the deal after criticism over social media.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar in Ankara

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