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Nizar Banat killing: Palestinian Authority arrests activists at Ramallah protests

Architect Khaldun Bishara, filmmaker Mohammed al-Attar and activist Fadi Quran were among those detained
Palestinian protesters rally in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on 17 July 2021 to denounce the death of Nizar Banat in Palestinian Authority custody (AFP)

Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces rounded up several activists over the weekend in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, before releasing some of them on Monday morning.

Palestinian activists have been attempting to protest since Saturday against the PA's politically motivated arrests, as well as calling for accountability in the death of outspoken activist Nizar Banat in PA forces custody in June.

Who was Nizar Banat, the outspoken critic who died in Palestinian Authority custody?
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Security forces have prevented Palestinian activists from protesting in Ramallah, the seat of PA’s government, on several occasions, arresting a number of demonstrators on Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday, Palestinian police said that it had arrested 24 people in central Ramallah for holding a demonstration without an official permit.

The protesters stood outside the judicial headquarters on Sunday, as a hearing for those detained a day earlier was ongoing, holding banners reading: “Together we will continue… no oppression or arrest will terrorise us.”

Those detained over the weekend included prominent figures such as architect Khaldun Bishara, filmmaker Mohammed al-Attar, activist Fadi Quran and journalist Omar Nazzal.

Zakaria Mohammed, a Palestinian writer who was arrested on Sunday and released on Monday, remained defiant in a post published on Facebook.

“Our arrest was done outside of the law and without reason, it was to send a message to everyone," he wrote. "This message is: 'There isn't anyone too big in this country (to get away with opposing the PA).'

“We reply to them with another message: 'You won't terrify us, you won't silence us, and we will stand up against oppression, corruption and the surrender before the enemy… Long live Palestine',” he added.

The PA has been facing large protests since June following Banat's death.

Since then, dozens of Palestinian activists have been arrested, beaten or otherwise injured while participating in demonstrations, while others have been detained for criticising the PA on social media.

A senior US official warned in July that the PA was “like a dry forest waiting to catch on fire” because of its mounting unpopularity amid economic strains and a crackdown on dissent.