'He deserved to die.' official defends murder of human rights activist Nizar Banat

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the top apparatchik, who works closely with British officials, said: 'I know the officers accused of killing him personally. They are good ones.'


The silhouette of an Israeli soldier is pictured in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on November 13, 2018. - Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel today after a severe escalation of violence threatened to descend into full-blown war. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

A leading Palestinian Authority official has defended the gruesome murder of political activist Nizar Banat, telling the JC he would have participated in the killing himself.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the top apparatchik, who works closely with British officials, said: “I know the officers accused of killing him personally. They are good ones. I know their wives, their families, everyone.

“When they came to arrest him, he was very rude, impossible. He cursed their mothers and their sisters. If I’d been there, I would have joined in the beating.”

He added: “I believe Banat deserved what happened to him. When you listen to his videos you can see he was not stable. He exaggerated his case. He was attacking the whole social system.”

This is the first time such a high-ranking figure has spoken so candidly in support of the brutal political murder. He also defended the routine use of torture by the PA.

“I say [to British partners], yes we use torture if it’s needed. If I know I will save your kids’ lives if I torture someone, I will torture him.”

Human rights activist and politician Mr Banat was beaten to death by a West Bank security squad in June last year after he called on the EU to suspend aid to the PA when it cancelled Palestinian elections.

He had been arrested numerous times for insulting national sentiment, damaging the PA and inciting hostility towards the PA on Facebook.

In the weeks before his death, the campaigner had received a number of threats. Two days before the killing, security officers had shot at his house in Hebron and he told his lawyer that he feared he was about to be murdered.

The PA official insisted that the assassination was justified. “I have given my career to achieve a Palestinian state, doing my duty to make that happen,” he told the JC.

“What is more important? Banat or the Palestinian mission?

“Now it’s a matter for the courts, but it’s being made into a political issue. Does Banat equate to three million Palestinians?

“Our officials don’t think the Banat case is something big, something we have to think about. What was the importance of Banat’s life?

“If he had been a responsible father, he should have thought about the future of his kids. He should have matched his desires to reality.

“Only the PA can achieve the goal of a two-state solution, and by criticising PA corruption, Banat was undermining it.”

He added that the international outcry provoked by the murder — particularly by Britain and other countries that support the PA security services — was calling the PA’s future into doubt.

But he believed the attention would soon die down, comparing the case to the 2018 murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“Look at Joe Biden,” he said.

“He was tough on (Saudi leader) Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi. But now he flies to Jeddah and fist-bumps him, and there are hugs and kisses.”

The official also defended the use of torture by Palestinian security services, claiming that it helped the PA’s friends — including Britain — by providing valuable intelligence.

“If it is needed to get information, then it is necessary,” he told the JC. “I don’t believe in making myself nice.

“If you believe an attack may take place and the person knows about it, you have to act quickly to prevent that from happening.”

Intelligence gathered through torture may be vital in preventing attacks in the West, he said.
“Security is general, comprehensive, not just about one thing, one place.

“The Palestinian cause has been used to justify attacks by al-Qaeda and ISIS, and many Palestinians have been recruited and sent to Lebanon, Syria and Europe.

“What happens here may affect what happens in Syria, in Stuttgart, in Spain. A lot of information has been delivered. Terrorism is a trans-border phenomenon, and if we don’t share information, things will be more difficult all over the world.”

He said he had defended the use of torture in conversations with senior British officials.
British officers, he claimed, were generally more receptive to such arguments than the Americans.

“The British have a deeper understanding of these issues because of their background,” he said.

“They are more considered, respectful, than the Americans are here. You can talk freely and openly in front of the Brits. Not so the Americans.”

He acknowledged that the British Army Support Team and their American colleagues who trained Palestinian forces were “active” in their opposition to torture.

“On human rights, they make the same demands as everyone,” he said. “Also on transparency, and the need to investigate complaints against the services.”

Since 2008, when British training commenced, the use of torture had diminished, he said, though it remains endemic on the West Bank.

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