Hebron, Occupied West Bank – The household of Nizar Banat, a fierce critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) who was allegedly overwhelmed to loss of life by its safety forces in May, has resolved to hunt worldwide justice if obligatory regardless of coming beneath heavy stress to drop the authorized combat.
Nizar’s household appeared earlier than the Ramallah army court docket on Sunday and offered witness statements as a part of the continued trial for 14 safety officers implicated in his loss of life.
Relatives have criticised the trials as being a publicity stunt.
“Those 14 men are small fish in a big pond, and are being used as sacrificial lambs,” mentioned Nizar’s brother, Ghassan.
“They were obviously taking orders from much higher above but none of the higher-ranking officials has been questioned or investigated,” Ghassan informed Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera contacted the PA’s press workplace and was informed nobody might touch upon the problem.
“We have hired British lawyers to work on the case and will consider approaching the United Nations and various other international actors if we don’t get justice in Ramallah,” Ghassan mentioned.
“This is an international issue because the international community is funding the PA and instead of them spending the money on schools, hospitals etc, the money is going towards repression.”
Family good friend Hisham Sharabati, a human rights advocate with Palestinian rights group Al-Haq and political activist with the Hebron Defence Committee, informed Al Jazeera the “family will also consider approaching the International Criminal Court [ICC], but only after other legal steps locally and internationally have been taken”.
Sharabati mentioned the PA was in a tough place and feared the matter being tried earlier than worldwide jurisdiction, which might imply, sooner or later, members of the PA might be tried overseas.
“They have tried to resolve the matter through tribal reconciliation and offered an enormous amount of money, equivalent to reparations for the death of 14 people,” Sharabati informed Al Jazeera.
“The family refused as this would lead to much milder consequences for the killers and negate the family’s chance for justice through the courts,” he added.
“They are now putting enormous pressure on the family by raiding family members’ homes and arresting relatives.”
Nizar Banat, from the city of Dura in Hebron, was a vocal critic of the PA, often accusing it of corruption and nepotism, and had been subjected to censure together with his ID being taken away.
In early May, Nizar was kidnapped from his home and allegedly overwhelmed to loss of life within the early hours of June 24 by masked males, a few of them armed, from the PA safety companies, who raided his cousin’s home the place he was taking refuge, and attacked him whereas he was sleeping.
Nizar obtained a number of loss of life threats earlier than his killing and was staying in space H2 of Hebron, beneath direct Israeli army management, considering he could be secure.
His brother Ghassan mentioned the PA had coordinated with the Israeli army to get to Nizar.
“Dozens of heavily armed men had to pass an Israeli military post, situated approximately 500 metres away from Ghassan’s home, on their route from PA intelligence headquarters in Hebron. How could they have passed the Israeli soldiers without their knowledge?” requested Ghassan.
“There was obviously coordination with the Israelis as this was in Area H2 of Hebron which is under Israeli control.”
He mentioned he believed the 14 males had been paid off, and would obtain comparatively minor jail sentences.
Family members arrested
Nizar’s cousin Hussein, one of many major witnesses of the assault, was arrested a number of weeks in the past by PA safety forces.
“They came in the early hours of the morning and arrested me. I was shackled and beaten in the car before being interrogated at Hebron’s security headquarters,” Hussein informed Al Jazeera.
“Over nine days I was held in stress positions with my hands shackled to the roof, beaten and given electric shocks as they tried to force me to change my original testimony.”
Hussein mentioned he was sleeping collectively along with his brother, Muhammad, in the identical room as Nizar when he was kidnapped.
“They want me to say that Nizar attacked the PA security forces first and then they responded with violence, but this is not true and I won’t change my testimony. He was sleeping when they started beating him,” mentioned Hussein.
Sharabati mentioned the raids have been unlawful.
“Although the behaviour of the PA security forces has become a little better since Nizar’s death, they are raiding homes without search warrants and arresting family members without arrest warrants or approval from the prosecuting authorities.”
‘I worry about my sons’
The PA has accused relations of getting weapons and capturing one of many males allegedly concerned in Nizar’s loss of life on the household home, a cost the household denies.
Hussein’s twin brother, Arafat, was additionally arrested and brought in for questioning in current weeks, together with different relations.
The stress of the scenario has pressured some relations to enter hiding and others to go away the West Bank, together with Nizar’s mom who’s now living in Jordan.
Nisam Banat, the mom of Hussein and Arafat, mentioned the continual raids have been inflicting her sleepless nights.
“I worry about my sons being hurt or killed, and when lots of young men raid my house in the middle of the night it disturbs my daughters, too,” Nisam informed Al Jazeera.
“Every time a person we don’t know comes to the house we think it’s somebody connected to the PA.”
Keeping his reminiscence alive
Ghassan mentioned he was being continually monitored by PA intelligence and his telephone had been hacked, forcing him to make use of a number of completely different gadgets.
“I’m unable to use WhatsApp or other social media sites. There is constant interference on my phones and a whole lot of strange numbers from overseas have suddenly become contacts on my phones,” mentioned Ghassan, including he’s frequently on the move and sleeping in numerous West Bank cities and cities.
Despite the heavy stress, the household mentioned they’re decided to proceed their combat for justice for Nizar and to maintain his reminiscence alive.
Relatives held a memorial service final week in Ramallah to commemorate Nizar’s life. Representatives of assorted Palestinian political events, in addition to different Palestinian supporters and a variety of worldwide dignitaries, attended the occasion.
Ghassan mentioned they issued numerous identification playing cards with Nizar’s identify and particulars on them, “to remember him after the PA confiscated his ID last year”.