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The Murder of Palestinian Human Rights Activist that Didn’t Make the News

El asesinato de activista de derechos humanos palestino que no fue noticia

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It has been more than a year since June 20, 2021, when Nizar Banat, a Palestinian human rights activist from the West Bank was beaten to death by Palestinian Authority (PA) policemen. A year in which Banat’s murder and his denunciations of PA corruption did not make international headlines. Nor was it news that because of Banat’s murder, Palestinian protests broke out in Ramallah against the government of Mahmoud Abbas and PA police brutally repressed the demonstrators and imprisoned those they arrested.

Despite the fact that foreign journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict know that a leading Palestinian human rights activist was beaten to death by Palestinian police officers, they preferred to “look the other way” in the face of Banat’s murder.

The Biden administration also chose to “look the other way,” as Banat’s murder was not on the agenda of the meeting between Biden and PA President Mahmoud Abbas on July 15 in Bethlehem, even though asking Abbas for explanations about the release of the 14 PA officials accused of Banat’s abduction and murder would have improved Biden’s battered image somewhat.

The head of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (PICHR) office in the southern West Bank, Farid al-Atrash, recalled that before the murder Banat’s wife and children had already been shot, without anyone being arrested for it, and that Banat claimed that “he was being persecuted.” PICHR revealed in a statement that the order for the release of the accused officers was issued by the Palestinian Authority military prosecutor, and called “on the Palestinian judicial authority to speed up the trial of the defendants and ensure justice for Nizar Banat, his family, and friends.”

International journalists too “looked the other way” during the Palestinian protests against the release of the PA officers who allegedly murdered Banat and did not consider as news the PA crackdown on Palestinians who protested again in Ramallah to demand justice for Banat’s murder. They preferred not to listen to the brother of the murdered human rights activist when he claimed that it was Abbas who gave the order to release the alleged murderers.

Unbeknownst to the international press, Amnesty International claimed in a recent statement that, “Justice remains elusive one year after the death of Nizar Banat, a Palestinian activist who died shortly after being arrested and brutally assaulted by Palestinian security forces in June 2021.”

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa said that “a flawed military trial of 14 low-ranking security officers will not bring justice” and added that there was “a need for a civilian trial following international standards, not just a smokescreen to protect those at the top. It is essential that the people who gave orders to arrest Nizar Banat without legal reason and who oversaw the assault also be imprisoned.”

The same international press that turned a blind eye to Banat’s murder and the PA’s repression of Palestinians demanding justice for him launched an international campaign —led by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and the Associated Press— blamed Israel for the murder of Palestinian journalist Abu Akleh while covering armed clashes in the West Bank between the Israeli army and Tehran-funded Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists. Akleh was tragically caught in the crossfire, neither the military nor the terrorists were shooting at her. Banat was kidnapped and beaten to death by Abbas’ government police, not Israel’s, which is why the international press of the anti-Semitic left “looked the other way.”

Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros

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