Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network condemns in the strongest terms the assassination of Palestinian organizer Nizar Banat, a stalwart fighter against corruption who worked tirelessly to end “security coordination” between Palestinian Authority security forces and the Israeli occupation regime, the framework underlying the Oslo Accords. Before his assassination early this morning, 24 June, by Palestinian Authority security forces, coming once again to detain him as a political prisoner, Banat has been repeatedly jailed, interrogated and tried by the Palestinian Authority. We urge Palestinians, Arabs and internationalists to protest and organize to demand justice and accountability – and the liberation of Palestine!
The assassination of Nizar Banat reflects a conscious policy of the Israeli occupation and the Oslo Palestinian Authority affiliated with it. The latter is carrying out its specific function to protect the existence of the occupation and its control over the Palestinian people in the West Bank. Acting as agents of the occupation, the PA is practicing all forms of oppression and terror, including political arrests, violent raids and assassinations, against the Palestinian people in order to serve the Zionist colonial project and to protect the privileges of the small sliver of the beneficiaries of the Palestinian Authority – the Oslo class affiliated with the Zionist regime.
This crime cannot be considered apart from the assassination policy against Palestinian leaders and fighters carried out continuously over the decades by the Israeli occupation regime. The “security coordination” framework, overseen and implemented by the United States, Canada and the European Union (all engaged in training, funding and oversight of Palestinian Authority security forces), is designed to employ Palestinian agencies to carry out the mission of Zionist colonialism – chasing, repressing, imprisoning and targeting the Palestinian resistance as well as many Palestinians — organizers, writers, intellectuals, student activists — who present an alternative vision for the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea, without the collaborationist entity of the Palestinian Authority.
The purpose of these Palestinian Authority security forces and the “security coordination” project under which they carry weapons is to prevent the Palestinian people and their liberation movement from effectively resisting and overthrowing the Israeli occupation regime throughout occupied Palestine through ongoing force, violence and repression, in full service of the interests of Zionism and imperialism, while bearing a Palestinian flag emblem on each agent’s badge.
The brutality of the beating of Nizar Banat is evident in the photographs of his body. 25 Palestinian Authority security forces – trained by the standards created by U.S. officials, such as Gen. Keith Dayton – invaded Banat’s home in Dura near al-Khalil at 3:30 am, exploding the door off of the hinges, mimicking almost exactly the terror of the Israeli night raids to which Palestinians are subjected to daily before dawn. Middle East Eye reported, “Ammar, a cousin of Banat… added that officers stormed the room in which Nizar was sleeping and immediately sprayed him with pepper spray to his mouth and nose. The cousin said they beat Banat severely with iron and wooden batons. Nizar being in a semi-conscious state, Ammar said security forces then dragged him, stripped him of his clothes, and took him away in a military vehicle.” He was reported dead hours later.
Thousands of Palestinians marched in the streets in outrage at the assassination of Banat, demanding not only justice and accountability for those responsible for the killing but also the downfall of Mahmoud Abbas, bringing down the PA regime and its collaboration with Israel, and the end to the Oslo Accords. Indeed, the Palestinian people and the resistance have repeatedly demanded an end to security coordination since the beginning of its implementation, while PA President Mahmoud Abbas has declared it to be “sacred.”
The entire Oslo process has been devastating for the Palestinian people: Thousands of Palestinian lives have been stolen on the path to Oslo, while the political frameworks of the Palestinian struggle have been distorted, hijacked and compromised. While Palestinians inside occupied Palestine ’48 continue to affirm their identity and existence and organize for liberation, the official Palestinian leadership of the P.A. instead “recognized” Israel, the creation of the Nakba and a Zionist settler colonial project on 78% of Palestine. This is why Palestinian organizers have demanded an alternative Palestinian path that rejects Oslo and the project of surrender in full.
Indeed, the past month of mobilization inside and outside Palestine has underlined the deep unity of the Palestinian people throughout occupied Palestine from the river to the sea and everywhere in exile and diaspora, and their commitment to resistance until liberation — two things that the Oslo project was meant to destroy and undermine, yet failed utterly to do so.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in outrage at the assassination of Nizar Banat, marching in Ramallah – only to be attacked once again by Palestinian Authority security forces firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons. “Palestinian law protects the occupation,” affirmed Maher al-Akhras, who won his release from administrative detention after a 103-day hunger strike. The killing also comes after dozens of Palestinian activists, including protest leaders and youth chanters during the marches in support of Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza, have been detained, interrogated and attacked by the Palestinian Authority in recent weeks.
Lawyers for Justice, which has worked tirelessly to release dozens of political detainees from PA prisons, chronicled the misuse of health regulations and the declaration of a state of emergency in order to repress Palestinian organizing in a report released only two days before Banat’s killing. Middle East Eye reported that Muhannad Karajah of Lawyers for Justice noted that “Banat had called him on Wednesday and told him that he was being subjected to threats by the PA’s intelligence service, who had demanded that he stop his criticism of the authority….’By killing Nizar Banat, the [Palestinian] Authority confirms today that it is a repressive authority that threatens any human rights defender, and every person is subjected to a process of political arrest.'”
Of course, the assassination of Banat brings echoes of many previous cases of Palestinian Authority security forces’ brutality and complicity with Israeli crimes – from the assassination of Basil al-Araj by Israeli occupation forces shortly after al-Araj and five of his comrades were imprisoned and tortured in PA jails to the killing of Omar Nayef Zayed, found dead outside the PA Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he had taken refuge after Israeli occupation authorities attempted to seek his extradition, decades after he had escaped from colonial prisons.
Palestinian Authority political detention is a “revolving door” with Israeli occupation imprisonment for many Palestinian youth leaders and student activists. Arrests of student leaders on campus by Israeli occupation forces are combined with “security coordination” detentions of even more Palestinian students. Just months ago, PA security forces attacked Palestinian refugees in Beirut protesting for justice at the PA’s embassy.
And, infamously, the Palestinian Authority imprisoned Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the PFLP; his comrades Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Basil al-Asmar and Hamdi Qur’an – as well as longtime Fateh leader Fuad Shobaki, in the PA’s Jericho prison, under U.S. and British guard, for four years, from 2002 until 2006. Now, all of them are held in Israeli jails, when they were seized from Jericho prison by Israeli occupation forces.
Nizar Banat’s blood is on the hands of the PA – and therefore it is on the hands of Israel, the United States, Canada, the European Union and all parties involved in creating, sustaining and propping up the “security coordination” framework, which benefits only the occupier and colonizer at the expense of the Palestinian people.
Now is the time to take action to confront the Palestinian Authority and all those responsible for imposing it upon the Palestinian people to the detriment of the Palestinian struggle for return and liberation. The PA and its funders and trainers must be held accountable for its ongoing betrayal of the Palestinian people and its collaboration with the occupation regime and Zionist colonialism. We note that this crime is also an urgent call to boycott, isolate and resist Israeli occupation throughout Palestine and elsewhere. The Oslo project is backed by Zionism, imperialism and reactionary regimes – and it must and will fall on the road to the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.
- Protest at the Palestinian Authority embassy, mission or consulate in your country – or at the Israeli embassy.. Demand justice and accountability for the assassination of Nizar Banat and make it clear that the PA does not represent the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation! Find the PA mission or embassy in your country here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/palestine – we note — this is also an Israeli crime, first and foremost in the interests of the occupation. Protest at Israeli embassies and consulates: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/israel
- Demand your government stop supporting Palestinian Authority security forces and sanction Israel. Aid and training of PA security forces is not designed to provide security to Palestinians, but instead to bolster the Israeli occupation and repress Palestinian resistance. Legitimate aid must support the rights of the Palestinian people, not directly undermine those rights.From Canada to Australia to the European Union, Western governments and imperialist powers provide ongoing diplomatic, political and economic support to Israel as well as selling billions of dollars of weaponry to the settler-colonial state. Meanwhile, they also purchase billions of dollars in weaponry from the Israeli state. Governments in league with imperialist powers, such as in the Philippines, Brazil, India and elsewhere, also buy weapons and “security” services — all “battle-tested” on the Palestinian population. Call your representatives, MPs, political officials and demand your government sanction Israel now, cut off all aid, expel its ambassadors, and stop buying and selling weapons – and stop financing and training the PA security forces to assist the occupation in its crimes.
- Join Palestinian movements and organizations fighting back against Oslo. Many Palestinians, inside Palestine and in exile and diaspora, are working to bring down Oslo and restore the compass of the struggle – for liberation and return, from the river to the sea, and upholding the resistance as the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people. Learn more and get involved with the Masar Badil (Alternative Palestinian Path) conference to convene in Madrid in October 2021.
- Boycott Israel – The international, Arab and Palestinian campaign to boycott Israel can play an important role at this critical time. Local boycott groups can protest and label Israeli produce and groceries. By participating in the boycott of Israel, you can directly help to throw a wrench in the economy of settler colonialism. Download our Boycott Flyer to distribute at supermarkets, stores and other venues in your community!