[News] Palestinian Authority arrests lawyer, activists, amid Nizar Banat protests

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Sun Jul 4 14:05:41 EDT 2021


middleeasteye.net
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestinian-authority-arrests-lawyer-activists-nizar-banat-protests>
Palestinian
Authority arrests lawyer, activists, amid Nizar Banat protests
By Shatha Hammad in Ramallah, occupied West Bank - July 4, 2021
------------------------------

The PA continues its crackdown on dissent in the wake of outspoken
activist's death in police custody

Demonstrators rally in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on 3 July
2021 for a protest denouncing the PA following the death of activist Nizar
Banat (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Published date: 4 July 2021 14:50 UTC | Last update: 3 hours 11 mins ago

Palestinian Authority (PA) forces arrested a Palestinian lawyer and three
activists in front of the courts complex in the occupied West Bank city of
Ramallah on Sunday morning, amid heightened tensions over the PA's
targeting of activists and demonstrators.

Security forces detained Muhannad Karajah, a Palestinian human rights
defender and attorney, and a member of Lawyers for Justice
<https://lawyers4justice.ps/227501-2/>, a Palestinian group focused on
human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Sunday’s arrests occurred while a hearing was underway for activists who
were arrested a day earlier over their political activism and their
participation in a protest in Ramallah against the PA.

<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestine-protest-nizar-banat-pa-abbas-ramallah>

Anti-Palestinian Authority protesters march in Ramallah over Nizar Banat
death

Karajah had been heading to the court to represent activist Ghassan
al-Saadi, as well as to follow up on the summons of another activist, Alaa
al-Rimawi, over a speech he gave at the funeral of the Nizar Banat, a
popular and outspoken activist who died in PA custody on 24 June.

Banat’s death has sparked a wave of protests across the West Bank against
the PA and calls for President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been in power for 16
years, to step down.

Thafer al-Saaydah, a member of Lawyers for Justice, told Middle East Eye
that Palestinian security personnel suddenly pulled Karajah aside when he
entered the court, arrested him without providing a warrant, and
transferred him directly to police custody instead of the public prosecutor.

Three activists were meanwhile detained while participating in a vigil in
front of the court to express their disapproval at the arrest of activists.
Two of them were identified as Jihad Abdo and Izzeddin Zarour, while the
third has yet to be named.

The Palestinian Bar Association issued a statement on Sunday condemning
Karajah’s arrest and demanding his immediate release.

Saaydah stressed that he and other members of Lawyers for Justice have been
targeted by the PA in the past year and threatened with arrest for their
legal and human rights activities - threats that have only intensified in
recent weeks.

On Saturday, Ramallah saw thousands of Palestinians taking to the streets
to denounce the role PA forces played in Banat's death, as well as to
reject security forces’ crackdown on previous protests in memory of the
activist.

PA forces had erected checkpoints at the entrances of Ramallah to prevent
Palestinians from joining the demonstrations. Plainclothes security
personnel also closed Jerusalem Street, one of the main roads in Ramallah,
and obstructed the passage of vehicles there.

Security forces also prevented demonstrators from moving towards the
presidential residence by setting up barricades in the street.

In recent weeks, PA forces have been accused, among other things, of
deliberately targeting women journalists covering the demonstrations,
beating them, breaking their cameras, and threatening them with rape
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestine-women-journalists-speak-up-pa-attacks>
.

The PA was established in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords and initially
intended to be an interim governing body until the establishment of a
fully-fledged Palestinian state.

But with a two-state solution never materialising, the PA - which exerts
only limited control over around 40 percent of the West Bank, known as
Areas A and B - has long been accused by many Palestinians of being an
extension of the Israeli occupation, particularly with its policy of
security coordination with Israel.

Abbas, meanwhile, has been in power since 2005. Though his term as
president officially ended in 2009, the PA has not held presidential
elections in 16 years.

While legislative elections and a presidential vote were initially
scheduled for 22 May and 31 July respectively, they were postponed in April
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestine-elections-abbas-israel-east-jerusalem-voting-rights>
.
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